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The latest update as of April 10, 2022


Tucson Dragway Reunion

The annual Tucson Dragway Reunion ran last night on a cool evening in southern Arizona. Despite the late cancellation of the advertised United Nitro Funny Cars, the track was able to put together a decent program with four genuine nitro burning AA/Fuel Altereds, a pair of Western Fuel Altereds, a pair of Jet Dragsters, a Wheelstander, and a special surprise guest appearance by Del Worsham in the Worsham Racing "Big Show" fuel funny car. Our regular correspondent, Big Bob Snyder was on hand to capture the action for this special report.

NOTE: We'll fill in the details later. For now, enjoy the photos.

Speed Sport trio

A trio of "Speed Sport" cars, with a recreation of the original Speed Sport Roadster of the late 1950's-early 1960's in the foreground, the Nostalgia Funny Car version that currently runs in the NHRA Heritage Series and other events, and in the background, what might be the original Speed Sport car.

Matt DeYoung, Jim Broome --- Matt DeYoung, Tony Huggins

Before the racing started, a pair of 2022 inductees to the Arizona Drag Racing Hall of Fame were honoured in a starting line presentation, with Tucson Dragway track manager, Matt DeYoung on the left in both photos, and (LEFT photo), Jim Broome (owner of the Speed Sport cars), and (RIGHT photo), Tony Huggins.

Pat Neal --- Pat Neal (near lane) vs 
Sheldon Lofgreen (far lane)

Before the AA/Fuel Altereds came out, a pair of Western Fuel Altered racers (running blown alcohol combinations) opened the action. (LEFT) Pat Neal in the Dave Sharp-owned car laid down a solid burnout, before facing (RIGHT) Sheldon Lofgreen (near lane) in his unique twin-turbo Hemi-powered car of Aart Nolte. In the far lane was Pat Neal.

Kevin Knowles (near lane) vs Johnny West 
(far lane) - AA/FA --- Johnny West - Plan 'A' - AA/FA

The next pair out of the lanes were a pair of full-on blown, nitro-burning hemi-powered cars, with (LEFT) Johnny West in his familiar "Plan 'A'" entry (far lane) facing Kevin Knowles (near lane) in the Steve Neese & Kevin Knowles Topolino (?).

Kevin Knowles tire tracks

As can clearly be seen in this photo, Kevin Knowles took the "long route" to the finish line, sashaying all over the lane with the tires spinning until he lifted.

James Day - 'SheepHerder' - AA/FA --- James Day - 'SheepHerder' (near lane) vs 
Dylan Winfesky - 'Nitro Moose' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) it's James Day, the guy who will drive almost anything with four wheels, in the "SheepHerder" at the end of his burnout.

(RIGHT) Here, James Day Day is in the near lane, while Dylan Winefsky in his family's "Nitro Moose" '32 Bantam is in the far lane.

Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' - AA/FA --- Mike Mantel - 'Little Red Fire Trcuk' - Wheelstander

(LEFT) Here's a closer look at the Nitro Moose as it leaves hard.

(RIGHT) After the Fuel Altereds made their first runs, the "Little Red Fire Truck" Dodge pickup bodied wheelstander of Mike Mantel put on a show. With a blown alky 392-hemi for power, the truck has plenty of power to entertain the spectators.

Del Worsham - FC --- Del Worsham - FC

Burning out in the left photo, and launching hard with the flames up high, is Del Worsham in the Worsham Racing Funny Car. Sporting "Auto Parts 4 Less" livery, the team brought it out to put down at least one test run before it heads overseas to its new owners. Not wanting to ship it before knowing it was ready to run well, Del found out it was ready to rock on the first pass. Word is that the car is bound for Australia, to join the ever-growing Funny Car team of Aussie speed equipment kingpin and former NHRA Funny Car racer, Graeme Cowin.

'Terminal Velocity - Jet Dragster --- Jimmy 'Shutter Bug' Kelso

(LEFT)

(RIGHT

Sheldon Lofgreen (near lane) vs Rich Nasby 
(far lane) - WFA

Dylan Winfesky - 'Nitro Moose' - AA/FA --- James Day - 'SheepHerder' - AA/FA

(LEFT)

(RIGHT


The latest update as of April 2, 2022


NHRA TOP FUEL TOP TEN Synopsis

The following is a few random notes on the current inhabitants of the Top Ten in NHRA points standings. We've also added a few racers that are sitting just outside that zone as the group will almost certainly see some changes throughout the season. In a departure from the past few seasons, it will be impossible to pick the Countdown to the Championship contestants until well into the season. At this writing, there's more than a dozen drivers and teams with the capability of finishing in that group when the points reset following the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals. We've listed the drivers in order, and added a few that are sitting just below the 10th spot.

Mike Salinas - #1 - 256 points

He had an up-and-down season in 2021, but finished strongly with three final round appearances in the last five races to finish solidly in the #3 spot. But the off-season saw a major change as crew chief Alan Johnson and assistant Brian Husen moved to the Kalitta Motorsports team. In what nearly amounted to a sports trade, ex-Doug Kalitta crew chief Rob Flynn took over crew chief duties on the Scrappers Racing entry for 2022. The balance of the Salinas stayed on, providing Flynn with a great starting point, and it showed, as they ran well in Phoenix during the Nitro Spring Training test session.

A win at that same track just a month later at the Arizona Nationals gave Salinas the early lead in the points chase. If they can hold it is open to question, but Salinas seems to be more determined than ever, the car is running well, and he's been getting some sponsorship help, as in the Pep Boys to help fund the operation. A Top Ten finish seems assured, but the placing remains unclear.

Justin Ashley - #2 - 233 points

Coming off a very successful sophomore season in Top Fuel, Ashley has the same crew, led by veteran Mike Green. They finished #5 in the final standings last year, with one win in three final rounds. The season started slowly, but they improved throughout and with the help of numerous minor and major sponsors, made a serious impact in the class. The lowpoint of the season was being forced to shutoff due to heatstroke in the mid-season "Winternationals" but he made his mark at this year's season opening edition of that event, by taking the win. He followed a first round loss at Phoneix with a semifinal finish at Gainesville and now sits just 23 points behind Salinas.

Steve Torrence - #3 - 209 points

Currently sitting in an unaccustomed position, ie., anywhere but #1, the four-time defending Top Fuel champion has had a decent, but unspectacular start to the season, with two semifinal finishes and a second round loss at the Gatornationals. The team, led by Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana has run well, but just not quite quick enough to get past some very tough competitors. He's lost very close races to Justin Ashley twice already and the car only failed him once, as he went up in smoke at Phoenix against Mike Salinas.

This team knows what it takes to win and they will certainly be visiting the winners circle soon, maybe this weekend, in fact. He's sitting third on the qualifying list, just .02 behind leader Leah Pruett, and in a good position to work his way into the later rounds. With all the data they accumulated over the past four seasons, the dominance that Torrence has exhibited is not gone, just slightly dormant at this point.

Brittany Force - #4 - 178 points

This ten year veteran of Top Fuel racing has a world championship to her credit (2017) and finished (a distant) second last season. She's back with the same sponsors, same crew, led by David Grubnic, in search of a second championship. The car always qualifies well, usually at the top, but getting through eliminations has always been somewhat problematic. Six final round appearances, and one win last year was good, but the Monster Energy team is always looking for more. While good e.t.'s are almost guaranteed, the reaction time department has been their downfall at times, but Ms. Force is always working to improve in that area of driving.

The 2022 season started decently, with a semifinal finish at Pomona, followed by a second round loss at Phoenix, and a disappointing first round exit at Gainesville after qualifying second and running nearly 338 mph in qualifying. The one word lacking in the team's vocabulary is consistency, but if they can overcome their lack of it, Brittany could literally become a Force in the class.

Clay Millican - #5 - 173 points

A constant in NHRA Top Fuel racing for nearly a quarter of a century, and still looking for a championship, is Clay Millican. His highest finish in the standings was #3 in 2018, and since then he's bounced around near the bottom of the top ten. Despite a solid relationship with crew chief Mike Kloeber since he came onboard the Parts Plus team in 2019, the team released him earlier this week and replaced him with Jim Oberhofer, who was just let go from the Paul Lee Funny Car team. While this sort of merry-go-round action usually happens in the off-season, the pressure to perform early and not get too far behind in the standings, appears to have been the catalyst.

The results so far this year for Millican have been high and low, starting with a first-round loss at Pomona, followed a week later by a runnerup finish at Phoenix, then a second round loss at Gainesville. The car has so far been oildown free, after a dreadful run last year, with 75 points deducted for that infraction, second only to Doug Kalitta's horrendous 105 points in penalties. The crew chief change has so far proved inconclusive, as after two qualifying sessions yesterday, they've yet to get to the finish line under power, despite some promising early numbers, with a 3.992 - 235.10 best at this point.

Trip Tatum III - #6 - 160 points

This racer came out of almost nowhere at last year's Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, making his first appearance since late in 2017. This time around he came prepared with a virtual clone of a CAPCO car, an experienced crew chief in John Stewart and car chief Tony Shortall, both veterans of fuel racing. He followed that up with a very strong 3.714 - 331.36 pass in a first round win at his second race (St. Louis), then matched the e.t. at Vegas, before going to the semifinals at the season ending Auto Club NHRA Finals, to close out a very successful four-race season.

Tripp opened his 2022 campaign at Phoenix, where he qualified very well (#4) at 3.684, then suffered a parchute malfunction that caused a first round loss. He rebounded strongly with his first national event win at Gainesville, qualifying #1 with new career bests of 3.674 - 331.53, and kept up the pace throughout eliminations, with his slowest run of the day being a 3.72 in the second round.

However, the Gainesville race was the last event on his current schedule, as he's not in Vegas this weekend, or entered (so far) in any of the next four events on the calendar. His plans for the balance of the year are not known, but until he finds some serious funding help, he will only be competing occasionally. That's bad news for fans of the sport, but good news for his competitors as this car and driver are capable of running with - and outrunning - anyone in any field.

Josh Hart - #7 - 157 points

The biggest surprise of the 2021 season in the class was Josh Hart. Led by crew chief, and now partner, Ron Douglas the former A/Fuel Dragster racer made his Top Fuel debut at the season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals last year and shocked the field by winning the event. With a rookie team and hampered by moving his entire operation from his home base in Florida to "Nitro Alley" in Brownsburg, IN, the team only competed sporadically, attending just five of the first 11 races on the schedule, effectively eliminating themselves from contention to be in the Countdown. They finished the season racing at the last eight events, ringing up a second win at Charlotte and three semifinal appearances, before a run of three consecutive first round losses at the end of the year.

With the team settled in their new race shop, more funding with the addition of some sponsors, and the committment to run the full schedule in 2022, they have had an up-and-down start, with a round win at Pomona, a semifinal finish at Phoenix, followed by a disappointing first round loss at Gainesville as they failed to repeat their dream debut at last year's Gatornationals. This weekend they're off to a slow start, popping the blower on their first qualifier and skipping the second session. While they're safely qualified, and currently in the fast half of the field, they need to show some of the consistency that carried them so far last year.

Doug Foley - #8 - 155 points

Another racer that is not on the pre-entry list for this week or the next four races (to this writing) is the runnerup from the recent Gatornationals. The Foley & Lewis started the season by appearing at the Phoenix pre-season test session, then competed at the first three races on the 2022 schedule before stopping to apparently regroup. While they stated that they intended to compete as hard as they were capable of until their funding was depleted, they appear to have "pulled the pin" early. It's doubly surprising in light of their solid performance at Gainesville, as they ran solidly in the 3.70's and low 3.80's throughout the event.

With the addition of a top-flight crew chief in Aaron Brooks, a trailer full of new equipment, and a major sponsor (Protec) for the start of the season, the team seemed poised to make a serious challenge to join the Countdown this year. After many years competing on the fringes of NHRA Top Fuel, with most of his racing done on the IHRA circuit, it appeared that 2022 would be the "make or break" year for the team as they stated early in the season. They will most likely drop out of the Top Ten after this weekend's race, and getting back in there will become more difficult with each passing race.

Austin Prock - #9 - 146 points

Doug Kalitta - #10 - 130 points

Tony Schumacher - #11 - 120 points

Shawn Langdon - #12 - 96 points

Antron Brown - #13 - 90 points

Leah Pruett - #14 - 76 points

The only racer below this point that could have an impact on the standings is last year's #6 finisher, Billy Torrence in the second CAPCO Contractors car. While he could almost certainly finish in the Top Ten again, it would require him to run a full season, which, due to business and family committments, just won't happen in 2022. He ran at Gainesville and won a round, and is currently entered for the final race at Houston (the NHRA SpringNationals) and the NHRA Virgina Nationals in Richmond, but that's only three of the first seven races of the season. It remains to be seen if he does add more races to his schedule, but if he doesn't hit the circuit full-time very soon, he won't have a chance to make the Top Ten this year.

Below Torrence, who currently sits #16 in the standings, are only part-time racers, none of whom have the funding to mount a challenge for more than an occasional race.

We'll post our synopsis on the Funny Car class tomorrow.


The latest update as of March 30, 2022

FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC - Updates

It took a while, but the elimination results arrived from the 2nd annual Funny Car Chaos Classic, so we've been able to provide a fullly detailed report on what took place. We've also received another batch of photos of the first and third qualifying sessions, and they've been added to our feature on the race. We've still got to add captions to those photos but that will come tomorrow. Check out the feature on the FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC page in our Features section.

The next item of business is this week's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the famed Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, we won't have our Southwest correspondent, BIG Bob Snyder on hand to provide us his great photos of the action. After his visit to the Texas Motorplex last weekend, he's taking a well-earned rest and recuperation break before making the short drive down to Tucson Dragway for next week's United Nitro Funny Car event. Hang on a minute, a quick check of their website reveals this major change in the program.

Tucson Dragway Reunion Update!

Unfortunately The United Nitro Funny Cars have pulled out of the race on April 9th. Our team has worked hard to make sure we still put on a great show for race fans like you! We have updated our program to include True Nitro Fuel Altereds, The Little Red Fire Truck Wheelstander, Uncle Dan's Tri-Five Showdown, ADRA Pro and Super Pro Race and Match Racing Jet Cars and more! More details will be released this week on all our Media Platforms.

Oh well, looks like there just isn't enough interest in the members of the UNFC to attend the race. Frankly, ever since the passing of Bill Doner things have not gone well for that group and the last two years has seen only one or two races, with less than full fields and no serious attempt to promote the Funny Car class. Sad indeed.

Tomorrow we'll have our "Fearless Forecast" for the major classes at the Four-Wides, then continue with updates throughout the event.


The latest update as of March 28, 2022

There are still no eliminations results available from the Funny Car Chaos Classic that was completed on Saturday night - other than the qualifying sheets posted on their Facebook page. The reasons are many, mostly starting and ending with the horrific fire suffered by Ken Singleton at the close of the second qualifying session. The latest reports, via his family, are that things are progressing and he is slowly improving. Thanks to everyone who helped save his life that evening and is helping him on the very slow road to recovery.

With the lack of details, our photographer, Bob Snyder helped fill in the ladders for the various fields through his photographs. We will endeavour to fill in the blanks (e.t.'s, speeds, etc) throughout the week, but at least we know who won (and lost) throughout eliminations. One mysetry was solved this morning when we found out that the "Back Attack" car, with Alan Bradshaw's name on the roof, was actually driven by Steve Wiley. It's not a major point, but it explains why I couldn't find Bradshaw's name anywhere except on the pre-entry list.

The amount of breakage suffered over the four days (Wednesday through Saturday) was incredible. Incredbily bad and incredibly expensive, especially for a season opening event. However, the pressure to perform at a major venue, with some very fast - or at least capable of going fast - cars competing led to many of the broken engines, transmissions - and worst of all - severely damaged wallets. There will probably be a number of cars withdrawing their entries at the next race or three following the FCC Classic carnage.

We will keep updating our coverage of the event as details come in, so keep refreshing/reloading the page and the FUNNY CAR CHAOS Classic event page in the Features section of this website.


The latest update as of March 27, 2022

--- ---

2nd annual FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC is in the books

This report will be very short as the only results posted from last night's eliminations at the Funny Car Chaos Classic are winners circle photos. We got a few more details from our photographer/correspondent, "Big" Bob Snyder, but that's all we've got for now. Photos from the Friday's first qualifying session, Saturday's final qualifying session and eliminations should arrive tonight and tomorrow and will be posted later tomorrow and Tuesday.

Here's the bare details from last night's eliminations.

"A" field winner was Lyle Greenberg in the "Cone Hunter" on a bye run when opponent Brad Tuttle was a no-show (due to engine damage) in the "Nitro Bandit".

The "B" field winner - in a big surprise - was Don Knoblauch in the "Atomic Punk" Camaro over Mike Newkirk in his Top Alcohol car.

Taking the "C" field trophy was Clay Cunningham in his "Still Crazy" entry, defeating Dustin Bradford in the "American Dream" 'Cuda.

Finally, the "D" field was won by Steve Timoszyk in the "Detroit Tiger" Monza over Jade Cook in her unblown nitrous assisted "Nemesis".

In a bit of a surprise, the eliminations photos arrived this afternoon and they're posted below. The captions will come tomorrow, and hopefully by then we will have e.t.'s and speeds available. At this time (6:00 PM PDT) they have not been posted on the Funny Car Chaos Facebook page.

One bit of VERY GOOD NEWS was posted on the High Risk Racing Team Facebook page a few hours ago. Ken Singleton has been taken off the ventilator, had his sedation reduced, and is alert and talking. While he still has an incredibly difficult journey ahead of him, it appears that he is out of danger and starting on the road to recovery. Very, very good news indeed.


ELIMINATIONS - Round One

With the obvious withdrawal of Ken Singleton due to his Friday night fire, the ladders for all four fields were adjusted accordingly. The only change to the "A" field - which we start with - is the elevation of #9 qualifer Jeff Cameron into the field, as everyone below the #4 spot moved up one notch. In an attempt to equalize competition between vastly different combinations, and power levels, the FCC creates an index for the "C" and "D" fields. Normally, the index applies to the "B" and "C" fields, but with the number of racers at the Classic, and the four 8-car fields created, the index rules were changed for this event only.

At this event, the "A" & "B" fields run heads-up, with no breakout, and all final rounds are no breakout, allowing racers to run all-out in the big money rounds. The indexes are set two tenths below the quickest qualifier in each field, meaning that if the top car ran 4.00, the index would be 3.80, etc. With all the breakage and subsequent insertion of alternates, the quick e.t. for the "C" field was 3.976 (Tom Furches), making the index for that group 3.77. For the "D" field, Jade Cook set the pace with her 4.296, making the index 4.09 for that bunch.

Brad Tuttle - 'Nitro Bandit' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Jeff Cameron - 'Jake's Speed Shop' TA/FC (far lane) --- Nancy Matter - 'Guardian' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Ronny Young - 'Blue Max' - AA/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) Eliminations opened with low e.t. qualifier, and #1 overall, Brad Tuttle in his "Nitro Bandit" Mustang (near lane) advancing past #9 qualifier Jeff Cameron in the "Jake's Speed Shop" entry in the far lane. Cameron did his very best to even the odds against the NHRA "Big Show" car, cutting an .001 light, but Tuttle had cut that lead in half by the 60' clocks, and pulled away to a 3.352 - 246.02 to easily cover Cameron's very good 3.833 - 173.50 as he shut off early.

(RIGHT) Running her old "Guardian" car (she recently purchased an NHRA "Big Show" car from Todd Simpson), Nancy Matter (near lane) faced a formidable opponent in the #3 qualifying Ronny Young, driving the iconic "Blue Max" tribute car (far lane). Young slowed a little from his qualifying pace, but still took the win with a 3.776 - 184.98 to advance to the semis. Matter was in trouble early, smoking the tires and shutting off to a 9.279 - 47.26 time.

Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Kyle Smith - 'PC Disposal' - TA/FC (far lane) --- Kirk Williams - '200 Proof' - TA/FC (near lane) vs 
Bryan Brown - 'Empire Dirt Works' - TA/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) Despite his Nitro Pro Comp win three weeks ago at the March Meet, Lyle Greenberg, (near lane) came into eliminations as a bit of an underdog from the #8 spot in his "Cone Hunter" Corvette. In the far lane, NHRA Top Alcohol racer Kyle Smith held a nearly two tenths of a second edge based on qualifying times, but it was Greenberg turning on the winlight and moving into the second round with a very good 3.729 - 202.70, coupled with a quick (.041) light. Smith was right there with him all the way down the track, leading by nearly three hundredths at the 60' mark, but fell just a few feet short at the finish with a 3.740 - 203.58, in the closest race of eliminations. The margin at the finish line was just .009 seconds.

(RIGHT) The next pair featured two NHRA Top Alky cars, with Kirk Williams in the aptly named "200 Proof" entry in the near lane, and on the far side, Texas veteran Bryan Brown in the sinister looking all-black "Empire Iron Works" car. Based on qualifying times, 3.675 for Brown, and 3.686 for Williams, it was a pick-em race. In a bit of a surprise, Brown took the win with an excellent 3.683 - 209.09 over Williams, who shook the tires early and coasted to a 5.339 - 92.06 for the loss.

Mike Newkirk - 'Newkirk Racing' - TA/FC --- Terry Totten - 'Rednecks 'n Fuel' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Tod Barker - 'Back in Black' - A/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) The "B" field didn't see any changes other than everyone moving up one notch, and #17 qualifier, Mike Tobacco, climbing into the bottom of the field from the top spot in the "C" field. The #2 car in the adjusted field, Mike Newkirk, was scheduled to race Dave Hill (not shown) in his "Zeus" entry, but Hill broke on the burnout, giving Newkirk a single. He didn't take it easy though, carding a solid 3.924 - 194.59 to advance.

(RIGHT) Still not adorned with his familiar "Rednecks 'n Fuel" paint scheme/wrap, Terry Totten (near lane) in his blown fuel car faced one of the "Back in Black" entries (far lane). This one, the 'Vette is being driven by Tod Barker and running an injected nitro combination. (One that actually gets down the track as evidenced by his 3.869 qualifying time). Totten stepped up from his 3.91 best in qualifying to a 3.595 - 235.23 as Barker redlighted (-.130) and shut off to a 7.529 - 73.54 clocking.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Levi Keenen - 'Illinois Thunder' - AA/FC (far lane) --- Mike Tobacco - 'Pandemic' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' - AA/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) In a bit of a surprise, Don Knoblauch (in the near lane) took out higher qualified Levi Keenen (far lane) with a consistent 3.925 - 193.72 and advanced to the semi-finals. Knoblauch did qualify decently with a solid 3.907 - 188.73 for a new career best e.t., and kept up the pace in the first round. Keenen smoked the tires on the launch and coasted to a 9.969 - 44.59 to end his weekend.

(RIGHT) Instead of being top dog in the "C" field, Mike Tobacco in the ex-"Crazy" Jake Crimmins car, now named "Pandemic", found himself at the bottom of the "B" field and having to race heads-up with no breakout. Paired up with the top qualifying Chuck Loftin in his "Motivation" Mustang, Tobacco gave it a good shot with a solid 4.013 - 192.88 that wasn't too far behind Loftin's winning 3.860 - 200.45. The winning margin for Loftin was much larger than the e.t.'s would indicate as Tobacco was nearly comatose when the lights flashed, with a .324 reaction time.

Tom Furches - 'Made in America' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Smiley Cordero - 'Maximum Overdrive' - AA/FC (far lane) --- Terry Haddock - 'Fool's Errand' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' - BB/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) The "C" field started with last year's #5 runner in the FCC points standings, Tom Furches in the patriotically hued "Made in America" entry (near lane) facing the newly named "Maximum Overdrive" (from last year's 'Mistress') car of Smiley Cordero (far lane). Based on qualfiying times and positions, Furches' 3.976 (#18) should have easily covered Cordero's 4.287 (#32), and knowing that, Cordero attempted to saw down the tree. He missed by -.001, giving the automatic win to Furches. Cordero's decent 4.395 - 166.62 wouldn't have been close to Furches' much better 3.985 - 170.75 in any case.

(RIGHT) Qualifying near the middle of the field with his NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car, Terry Haddock, in his Vega-bodied "Fool's Errand" (near lane) paired up with Clay Cunningham (far lane) in the "Still Crazy" car. Cunningham left first by a "bunch" - .004 to .180 reactions - and to add injury to insult, ran away from Haddock's 4.185 - 179.62 pass, with a 4.060 - 180.17 to turn on the winlight and move to the next round.

Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Mitch Bowen - 'Northland Express' - BB/FC (far lane) --- Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Joe Ljungberg - 'Raw Valley' - BB/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) A veteran FCC racer, Chris Schneider, in the Troxel & Schneider "Brutus" Mustang (near lane) took on Mitch Bowen's "Northland Express" (far lane) and managed to get past the quicker qualified (4.016 to 4.114) car to move into the next round. Schneider cut an excellent (.028) light and beat Bowen at both ends of the track, with his 4.070 - 179.39 covering Bowen's good try of 4.179 - 177.60 in the losing cause.

(RIGHT) The first round of "C" field eliminations closed with Dustin Bradford, in the near lane, pushing his "American Dream" to a win over series newcomer Joacim "Joe" Ljungberg, (far lane) all the way from Sweden, in the "Raw Valley" entry. Schneider dipped into the 3-second zone in qualifying in the 19th position at 3.999 for what might be his first visit to that "club". Then he bettered that run with a 3.972 - 182.77 to easily cover Ljungberg's game effort of 4.370 - 165.36 mph.

Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Steve Wiley - 'Back Attack' - TA/FC (far lane) --- Charles Ware - 'Juggling Rubies' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Anthony Whitfield - 'Mighty Mouse' - AA/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) The "D" field kicked off with the period correct "Detroit Tiger" Monza of Steve Timoszyk in the near lane, taking on the "Back Attack" entry of Bradshaw & Lawson in the far lane, being driven at this event by Pro Mod racer Steve Wiley. The "Tiger" team took the winlight as Timoszyk advanced to the semifinals with a decent 4.329 - 175.27 clocking. Wiley tripped the timers first though with his much quicker - and ultimately too quick - 3.980 - 176.71 that broke out of the 4.09 index by more than a tenth of a second.

(RIGHT) Two closely matched (in qualifying) racers came out next, with #37 qualifying Charles Ware in the "Juggling Rubies" (near lane), against #36 car of Anthony Whitfield in the blown fuel Small-Block Chevy-powered "Mighty Mouse" in the far lane. Unfortunately for Whitfield, it was another breakout decision, as the "Mouse" was just a little too quick at 4.026 - 188.12 that made Ware the winner with a safe 4.518 - 140.30. Whitfield left on Ware by five hundredths, but just couldn't slow his car enough to stay above the index.

Mike Buchanan - 'Hombre' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Jade Cook - 'Nemesis' - A/FC (far lane) --- Christine Foster - 'Family Feud' - TA/FC (near lane) vs 
Wayne Hofmann - 'China Syndrome' - BB/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) While it appears that Mike Buchanan (near lane) in his Vega-bodied "Hombre" has a lead off the line, he had redlighted with an -.052 reaction, negating his 4.582 - 153.28 effort. Taking advantage of his plight, Jade Cook (far lane) in her familiar yellow "Nemesis", lived up to that moniker again, as she took another round win at 4.343 - 163.37 to start her 2022 FCC season on the right note.

(RIGHT) The first round of eliminations closed with a new Funny Car driver, Christine Foster, (moved over from Top Alcohol Dragster) in her "Family Feud" entry (near lane) against newcomer Wayne Hofmann in his homage to his late father Al "China Syndrome" Dodge Omni in the far lane. While Hofmann qualifed nearly three tenths quicker than Foster, the times meant nothing going into eliminations. Hofmann took the round win in his first appearance at a Funny Car Chaos event, cutting a perfect .000 light, then laying down a 4.465 - 156.33 for the win. Foster had trouble instantly, smoking and/or shaking the tires and barely managing to limp across the finish line at 16.553 - 16.19 mph.


ELIMINATIONS - Round Two


Brad Tuttle - 'Nitro Bandit' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Bryan Brown - 'Empire Iron Works' - TA/FC (far lane) --- Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - AA/FC

(LEFT) With the skies darkening as the sun hit the horizon, the second round started with the flames showing brightly from Brad Tuttle's Nitro Bandit in the near lane. Bryan Brown (far lane) took an early lead off the line and kept the lead to the 330' mark before Tuttle's BIG horsepower took over and turned on the winlight with a very quick 3.503 - 199.04, despite a very early shutoff. Brown gave it his best shot, with a five hundredths holeshot, another five hundredths quicker 60' time, but fell short with a 3.707 - 207.25 clocking.

(RIGHT) With opponent Ronny Young broken (see below), Lyle Greenberg's "Cone Hunter" took an easy single at 4.552 - 123.81 to advance to the final against Tuttle. Knowing that he one more round of racing, Greenberg made the wise choice to shut off early and save the parts and fuel.

Ronny Young - 'Blue Max' - AA/FC --- Ronny Young - 'Blue Max' - AA/FC

(LEFT) The camera was zoomed in on the "Blue Max" at the end of Ronny Young's burnout as he prepared to face Lyle Greenberg in a match to see how would face Brad Tuttle in the final round.

(RIGHT However, it all came undone for Young during the burnout as a trail of leaking fuel stretched down the track from the starting line, with the leak ultimately forcing him to shut off and watch Greenberg run away to the final.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' - AA/FC (far lane) --- Mike Newkirk - 'Newkirk Racing' - TA/FC

(LEFT) In the first race of the "B" field semifinal, there was another upset win for the "Atomic Punk" team, as the Jeff Diehl-tuned car (near lane) was really running well and consistently. Driver Don Knoblauch turned on the winlight with a very good 3.914 - 187.59 to advance to the final round. Falling by the wayside in the far lane was the top qualifier (in the "B" field), Chuck Loftin in the "Motivation" Mustang as his 4.036 - 181.06 wasn't enough to catch the "Punk". What made the decision close was Loftin's seven hundredths holeshot, making the true-win margin just five hundredths, or about one car length.

(RIGHT) In full darkness, the cars were well illuminated under the Motorplex lights, as Mike Newkirk went on a single into the final round. His solid 4.059 - 185.72 wasn't necessary as opponent Terry Totten, sat in the pits after suffering major engine damage in the first round.

Tom Furches - 'Made in America' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' - BB/FC (far lane) --- Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' - BB/FC (near lane) 
vs Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' - BB/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) In the first pair of the "C" field semis, the "Still Crazy" car of Clay Cunningham (far lane) took a commanding lead right off the starting line, with an .006 light against the .195 reaction of Tom Furches. The elapsed times were close though, as Cunningham's 3.994 - 181.60 was only a little better than the "Made in America"'s (near lane) 4.029 - 156.89 time, but the gap at the finish line was several car lengths.

(RIGHT) The other match pitted Dustin Bradford in the "American Dream" (near lane) against Chris Schneider in the "Brutus" entry. Schneider left first by a small margin (.032 - .078) but his 4.066 - 178.33 wasn't quite quick enough to stay in front of Bradford's winning 3.966 - 182.82, as he dipped into the 3-second zone once more.

Wayne Hofmann - 'China Syndrome' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' - BB/FC (far lane) --- Jade Cook - 'Nemesis' - A/FC

(LEFT) With both sides of the christmas tree showing green lights, it was a good start for Wayne Hofmann, in his FCC debut in the "China Syndrome" Omni (near lane), but at the finish line the winlight was flashing in Steve Timoszyk's lane as the "Detroit Tiger" advanced to the "D" field final. Hofmann left first again but not nearly as quickly as his perfect light in the first round, but his 4.494 - 156.18, wasn't nearly enough to stay in front of Timoszyk's 4.148 - 167.60 timeslip.

(RIGHT) Burning out on her own, Jade Cook warmed the tires on her nitrous-assisted "Nemesis". She was scheduled to race Charles Ware in his "Juggling Rubies" entry, but he was broken and unable to show. She took an easy single at 5.777 - 67.50 to advance into another final round. That makes five finals, and two wins so far, in the eight races of her FCC career.


ELIMINATIONS - Final Round


Jimmy Jones - 'Texas Tremor' - AA/FA (near lane) vs 
Keith Zimmerer - 'Penny Pincher - AA/FA (far lane)

The Outlaw Fuel Altered final pitted two of the toughest racers on the circuit, with four time series champion Jimmy Jones in his "Texas Tremor" in the near lane, facing defending series champion Keith Zimmerer in his "Penny Pincher" entry. We don't have any results to report at this point.

Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Jade Cook - 'Nemesis' - A/FC (far lane) --- Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' - BB/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) The two finalists in the "D" field left strongly, with Jade Cook in her "Nemesis", barely visible in the far lane, slightly ahead of Steve Timoszyk in the "Detroit Tiger" (near lane). The reaction times favoured Cook by three hundredths, and she was still in front for a hundred feet, but Timsozyk pulled away with a good 4.108 - 180.73, taking the event win and visiting the winners circle for the first time since his "A" field win at Eddyville Raceway two years ago. Cook gave it a good try with her best run of the weekend at 4.292 - 163.05 to take the runnerup trophy.

(RIGHT) The "C" field final was a strange one, as the "Still Crazy" entry of Clay Cunningham, (far lane) left first - with a redlight - then ran much quicker with a 3.993 - 182.17. The automatic winner, Dustin Bradford, (near lane) in the "American Dream" Dodge Challenger crossed the centerline, invoking the age old "first or worst" rule and making Cunningham the winner. The event win was Cunningham's first since his 2020 "B" field victory at San Antonio.

Mike Newkirk - 'Newkirk Racing' - TA/FC (near lane) vs 
Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - AA/FC (far lane) --- Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - AA/FC

(LEFT) Coming out of the gate first - by a bunch - .032 to .166 reactions, was Mike Newkirk in the near lane, but his good 4.108 - 194.07 was overtaken by a career best run by Don Knoblauch (far lane). The "Atomic Punk" Camaro stopped the clocks with a 3.874 - 189.19, for a two car length margin at the 660' finish line to win the "B" field and the $5,000 winners check. It was a great job by the entire team, led by crew chief Jeff "The Surfer" Diehl and cheered on by Leeza Diehl, the "Nitro-A-Go-Go" girl.

(RIGHT) Speeding off into the night on a single run, heading straight for the "A" field winners circle was Lyle Greenberg in his "Cone Hunter" Corvette. He took it easy with his second single of the evening, this time a leisurely 6.078 - 75.28 pass as scheduled opponent Brad Tuttle was unable to show after destroying an engine in his semifinal win. With two big wins in less than a month, Greenberg's on quite a roll. Congratulations to the team and driver for a great performance on a big stage.

The event ended with a big fireworks show over the Texas Motorplex as the racers celebrated their wins, or calculated their losses after a race filled with an awful lot of breakage, some great performances, a number of upset wins (and losses), and a successful conclusion. This year's second edition of the Funny Car Chaos Classic didn't have as many race cars, especially not of the NHRA "Big Show" variety, and the spectator count appeared less than last year.

But the biggest "minus" to the 2022 edition - by far - had to be the horrible fire suffered by Ken Singleton in his "High Risk" car. That Friday evening catastrophe cast a very large shadow over what should have been a very joyous and exciting event that turned so dark so quickly. To their immense credit, the racers, crews, and officials came together to complete the race to the best of their ability on Saturday, despite the pall cast over it on Friday.


The latest update as of March 26, 2022 - 6:00 PM UPDATE

--- ---

2nd annual FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC Friday 2nd Qualifying Session Report

First out of the lanes for the second qualifying session on Friday evening were the members of the Outlaw Fuel Altered Association, followed by the Funny Cars. We've got the Fuel Altered photos posted below, but it will be tomorrow before we can get to the Funny Cars. Also, we don't have any e.t.'s or speeds for the altereds.

Clint Cross - 'Crossways' - AA/FA (near lane) vs 
Bobby Marriott - 'Shockwave' - AA/FA (far lane) --- Rick Lewelling - 'Midnight Special' - AA/FA (near lane) 
vs Randy Mueller - 'Crazy Randy' - AA/FA (far lane)

(LEFT) The first pair featured Clint Cross in the Cross & Meyer "Crossways" entry in the near lane, with longtime Outlaw Fuel Altered series competitor Bobby Marriott in his "Shockwave" in the far lane.

(RIGHT) Next up were Rick Lewelling in the "Midnight Special" (near lane) matched up with what appears to be (sorry, we're not certain) Randy Meuller in his battleship grey "Crazy Randy" entry on the far side. Mueller crosses over between FCC and OFAA with a flopper body and an altered.

Keith Zimmerer - 'Penny Pincher' - AA/FA --- Mark Hunter - 'Jailbreak' - AA/FA - near lane) vs 
Donny McSwain - 'Wild One' - AA/FA (far lane)

(LEFT) The 2021 Outlaw series champion, Keith Zimmerer in his "Penny Pincher" entry appeared to be making a bye run.

(RIGHT) The Hunter & Wasson-owned "Jailbreak", driven by Mark Hunter (near lane) paired up next with Donny McSwain in the "Wild One" in the far lane.

Jimmy Jones - 'Texas Tremor' - AA/FA (near lane) vs 
John Broussard - 'Purple Haze' - AA/FA (far lane) --- Wilkins & Gilliland - 'Psycho Too' - AA/FA

(LEFT) It was the Jimmy Jones driven "Texas Tremor" out next (near lane), up against John Broussard in his "Purple Haze" entry on the far side.

(RIGHT) The last Fuel Altered out of the "chutes" was the "Psycho Too", owned by Wilkins & Gilliland. We don't know who was driving, but "License Run" was shoe-polished on the rear wing.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' - BB/FC (far lane) --- Jordan Ballew - 'Ballew Thunder' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Following a disappointing appearance at the March Meet, Don Knoblauch (near lane) put down a solid 3.962 - 188.56 to slot into the middle of the pack in the #16 spot on the provisional qualifying list. In the far lane, Chris Schneider wheeled the "Brutus" Mustang to a decent 4.114 - 179.68 that placed him 23rd and, if there were not changes in the final qualifying session, near the bottom of the "C" field.

(RIGHT) Doing a hard burnout in the "Ballew Thunder" Camaro before making a so-so pass, was Jordan Ballew. His 4.816 - 137.86 was well off the pace, leaving him in the #40 spot, and outside any of the fields. At this point there were 36 spots open for eliminations, with a 4-car bonus "Shootout" field for racers who failed to make any of the four 8-car fields.

Jeff Krug - 'Obsession' - BB/FC --- Jeff Krug - 'Obsession' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Jade Cook - 'Nemesis' - A/FC (far lane)

On the left, burning out before making his run, was Jeff Krug in his "Obsession" entry. In the photo on the right, he launches alongside Jade Cook, who's barely visible in the far lane. While Cook recorded a decent 4.504 - 160.11 to land in the #33 position, Krug didn't show up on the qualifying sheets so he must have either left before the tree or been disqualified for a boundary infraction.

Damon Kuhn - 'Passin' Gas' - BB/FC --- Damon Kuhn - 'Passin' Gas' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Dusty Hunt - 'Nitro Pony' - AA/FC (far lane)

Another good burnout picture on the left, with Damon Kuhn's "Passin' Gas" lighting up the tires before facing Dusty Hunt's (far lane in the right photo) "Nitro Pony". Kuhn stumbled to a 7.146 - 81.90, while Hunt whipped the blown fuel car to an early shutoff 4.212 - 148.92 that placed him, temporarily at least, in the #27 spot on the qualifying sheet.

Brad Tuttle - 'Nitro Bandit' - AA/FC --- Brad Tuttle - 'Nitro Bandit' - AA/FC

With the sun down, the skies nearing full dark, the nitro flames started climbing into the sky as Brad Tuttle burned out, then launched hard in his "Big Show" "Nitro Bandit". He lit up the scoreboards big-time with an e.t. that covered the field by a bunch: 3.329 - 264.16 to be the odds-on favourite to take the win in the "A" field.

Terry Totten - 'Rednecks 'n Fuel' - AA/FC --- Smiley Cordero - 'Maximum Overdrive' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Steve Vang - 'Wicked Weekender' - BB/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) Another car with a serious blown fuel combination, Terry Totten driven "Rednecks 'n Fuel" entry pounded out a good 3.916 - 184.03 that placed him 14th on the list, near the bottom of the "B" field, going into the final qualifier on Saturday.

(RIGHT) With the car "re-branded" as "Maximum Overdrive" (near lane), Smiley Cordero paired up with Steve Vang and his "Wicked Weekender" in the next pairing. Smiley got to the finish line first at 4.297 - 168.88 (#30), while Vang trailed at 4.619 - 157.53, putting him #37 on the list.

Wayne Hofmann - 'China Syndrome' - BB/FC --- Wayne Hofmann - 'China Syndrome' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Nick Johnson - 'Razzle Dazzle' - BB/FC (far lane)

Making his Funny Car Chaos debut, Wayne Hofmann burned out (left photo), then lined up his "China Syndrome" in the near lane against Nick Johnson's all new "Razzle Dazzle" entry in the far lane. Johnson "won" the race with his 4.257 - 165.10 easily covering Hofmann's trailing 4.570 - 152.46 clocking.

Jon Capps - 'WTF Racing' - AA/FC --- Jon Capps - 'WTF Racing' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Matt Nissen - 'Runnin' Down A Dream' - BB/FC (far lane)

The Fuller & Cousimano "WTF Racing" team showed up with a replacement driver, Jon - not Ron - Capps in their car for this race. Capps showed his experience behind the wheel of a nitro funny car by cranking out a 4.247 - 131.58 in the near lane, despite an early shutoff. In the far lane, Matt Nissen trailed in his "Runnin' Down a Dream" entry with a decent 4.431 - 165.10, good for the #32 spot on the qualifying sheets.

Julie Nataas - 'Randy Meyer Racing' - A/FC (near lane) 
vs Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - AA/FC (far lane) --- Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Making another attempt to put down a competitive pass, but falling well short, was Julie Nataas, in the near lane. Her 11-second timeslip was no help for the struggling "Meyer & Nataas" team. In the far lane, Lyle Greenberg had no trouble with his NHRA-legal Nostalgia Funny Car, cranking out a very good 3.759 - 200.86 in his "Cone Hunter" Corvette. That run placed him at the bottom of the "A" field in the #8 position.

(RIGHT) Running by himself from all appearances, Dustin Bradford in the "American Dream" ran what was probably a career best of 3.999 - 180.39 to nearly make into the "B" field, with the run putting him provsionally in the #17 spot on the ladder.

Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' - AA/FC --- Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' - AA/FC (near lane) vs 
Danny Mann - 'Pony Up' - BB/FC (far lane)

Long-time series regular, Chuck Loftin, seen burning out on the left in his "Motivation" Mustang, and launching hard in the photo on the right, made one of his best runs in a long time, stopping the clocks at 3.831 - 198.55 to grab the #11 spot on the list. In the far lane, barely visible, is Danny Mann in the earlier model "Pony Up" Mustang, but he didn't show an elapsed time on the qualifying list due to an unknown cause. Breakage, red light, etc?

Aaron Morrow - 'Nitro Relapse' - AA/FC --- Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' - BB/FC (near lane) vs 
Mike Tobacco - 'Pandemic' - AA/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) After many years of competing with the Outlaw Fuel Altereds, the Darby & Morrow team switched to a Funny Car body over the winter, and Aaron Morrow launched with the flames up high in the "Nitro Relapse" entry. They didn't stay up for long though, as the pass resulted in a 6.723 - 65.49 timeslip.

(RIGHT) The next pair saw Steve Timoszyk (near lane) in his familiar "Detroit Tiger" Monza making an on-and-off pass that stopped the clocks at 4.810 - 170.60 for the #39 spot on the list. In the far lane, Mike Tobacco surprised a few poeple with a very competitive 3.952 - 181.95 that landed him in the #15 spot and a foothold in the "B" field. It was a very good start for the FCC series newcomer

Christine Foster - 'Family Feud' - TA/FC --- Christine Foster - 'Family Feud' - TA/FC

Making her FCC debut was Christine Foster in her new "Family Feud" NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car, and she had an on-and-off run that resulted in a #38 qualifying 4.731 - 152.46 time that didn't reflect the car's true capabilities. However, with one more chance to improve on that in Saturday's final qualifying session, the Foster team were looking for more, much more from the car.

Mitch Bowen - 'Northland Express' - BB/FC --- Mitch Bowen - 'Northland Express' - BB/FC (near lane) 
vs Charles Ware - 'Juggling Rubies' - BB/FC (far lane)

Warming up the Hoosiers in the photo on the left, the "Northland Express" of Mitch Bowen, who had been off the FCC "tour" since last May, laid down a good 4.016 - 180.63 that close to the magic 3-second territory, placing him #19 on the provisional list, and solidly in the "C" field. Running beside him in the photo on the right was Charles Ware in his "Juggling Rubies" entry, as he made a solid 4.561 - 168.65 pass. That put him #35 on the list and just outside the "D" field.

Nancy Matter - 'Guardian' - AA/FC --- Bob Alberty Jr. - 'Thunderin' Okie' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Even though she brought two cars to this event, Nancy Matter was only running her tried-and-true "Guardian" and it ran very well, with a great 3.746 - 204.05 clocking, one of her best ever, that placed her in the "A" field in the #7 spot on the ladder.

(RIGHT) After a strong finish to the 2021 season, with a runnerup showing in the "A" field at the season finale in San Atonio, Bob Alberty Jr. was looking to keep up that pace with his very colourful "Thunderin' Okie" car. His 4.038 - 181.83 was a good start to his weekend, putting him #19 on the qualifying sheets and near the top of the "C" field.

Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy' - BB/FC --- Levi Keenen - 'Illinois Thunder - AA/FC (near lane) 
vs Dave Gallegos - 'Nitro Clown' - AA/FC (far lane)

(LEFT) Laying down another hard burnout in the "Still Crazy" entry was Clay Cunningham as he prepared for his second qualifying attempt. This run put him in the #21 spot, in the "C" field, with a 4.040 - 181.58 coming up on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) Two blown fuel entries paired up next, as Levi Keenen pushed the "Illinois Thunder" Plymouth Arrow (near lane) to a very good 3.881 - 189.35 to grab the #13 spot on the list and a solid position in the middle of the "B" field. Barely visible in the far lane is Dave Gallegos in his "Nitro Clown" who trailed with an early shutoff 4.162 - 142.16 that left him in the 25th spot on the qualifying sheets.

Mike Newkirk - 'Newkirk Racing' - TA/FC --- Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven - AA/FC

(LEFT) Next up was Mike Newkirk in his Top Alcohol Funny Car, laying down a hard burnout before taking it down the track to a very quick 3.831 - 205.99 that nearly nabbed a spot in the "A" field, falling just short as he landed in the 10th position on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Newlywed Keith Jackson didn't have a very "High Heaven" run as their run showed up at the bottom of the list, with no time allotted. Disqualfied or broke before getting to the finish line, we're not sure. In any event, they were down to one final shot to make the field, at noon Saturday.

Jeff Cameron - 'Jake's Speed Shop' - BB/FC --- Kyle Smith - 'PC Disposal' - TA/FC

(LEFT) Another solid runner on the circuit, finishing in the Top Ten for the past three seasons, Jeff Cameron wheeled his "Jake's Speed Shop" entry to a #9 qualifying 3.802 - 197.13 pass that put him near the top of a very crowded qualifying list.

(RIGHT) NHRA regular over the past three years, with a Top Ten finish in Top Alcohol Funny Car in 2021, Kyle Smith pushed his newly sponsored "PC Disposal.com" entry to the second best time of the day, with an excellent 3.560 - 211.33 lighting up the scorebaords.

Kirk Williams - '200 Proof' - TA/FC --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' - TA/FC

(LEFT) The final pairing of the night matched the #1 & #2 finishers in the FCC standings last season in a fitting finale to the evening's second qualifying session. Seen here burning out was Kirk Williams in his "200 Proof" Firebird, before he put down a very good 3.686 - 203.23 that was "only" good enough for the #6 spot at the end of the session.

(RIGHT) Closing out the show was the three-time defending series champion, Ken Singleton, showing off his new sponsor ("Maxima Batteries") as he launched on his second qualifier. His earlier effort netted one of his best runs ever, a 3.662 - 215.15 that placed him #4 on the list. This run however, ended early as the crankshaft broke at half track, starting a huge fire that kept burning all the way down to the end of the track.

It took quite a bit of work for the safety crew to extinguish, and the car was virtually destroyed. Sadly, Singleton suffered some very serious burn injuries to a large percentage of his body, and as of late Friday was in the intensive care unit of the Burn Center at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Further updates on his condition were provided on Saturday.


The latest update as of March 26, 2022

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2nd annual FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC Friday qualifying is in the books

Later today we will post the pictures from last night's second qualifying session at the Funny Car Chaos Classic at the Texas Motorplex. First though, we've still got a couple of dozen photos from Thursday's test session to post and describe. Then on to yesterday's photos and reports. Hopefully, today will be a much better day for the FCC gang after a terrible incident on the last qualifying run last night.

Three time defending series champion, Ken Singleton, who reeled off a 3.60 in testing, and followed up with a great 3.662 - 215.15 in the first session, had a major engine explosion and massive fire engulf the car during his second attempt. The fire was difficult to extinguish and Ken suffered serious burns before he was able to exit the car. He's now in Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas in critical condition in the burn unit. It's very sad news indeed and it will be a very much subdued group of racers and officials at the track today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him, his family, the "High Risk" team, and everyone involved in what is the worst incident in the history of Funny Car Chaos. We pray for him to make a full recovery as we reflect on just how such a great sport can turn so nasty so quickly.

Here is the report from the "High Risk" team's spokesperson, Tammy Singleton, as delivered on the team's Facebook page.

"He is stable, he is on a ventilator; 2nd & 3rd degree burns on his nose, face, eyes. 26% of his body is burned," the post read. "His hands are severely burned. Face and hands will need skin grafts, and that process will start tomorrow. Torso and back have 2nd & 3rd degree burns as well. He is at Parkland Burn Center in Dallas. Please continue to pray."

The Funny Car Chaos media team offered this statement on their Facebook page.

"CHAOS friends and family we ask for your prayers for our 3-time World Champion Ken Singleton, who was involved in a serious fire during qualifying tonight at the Texas Motorplex. Ken is now at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Please keep him and the High Risk racing team in your prayers."

After all that, the racing seems so inconsequential compared to the injuries that Ken suffered, and will continue to suffer from for a long time. But the racing community will carry on and do what they do today: run their cars and race to win. If they were consumed by the "what if's" then they simply wouldn't be able to keep racing, but racing is what they do, and we will report on what happens at the race today, despite a very heavy heart.

Friday Qualifying Report

After two qualifying sessions, low e.t. holder is Brad Tuttle in the "Nitro Bandit", leading the field by nearly a quarter of a second and 50 mph, at 3.329 - 264.16. Next best, Kyle Smith, is way back at 3.560 - 211.33 in his NHRA Top Alcohol car. Tuttle's car is a full-on NHRA "Big Show" car, in case you were wondering. Tuttle's best run of the day is still more than a tenth shy of Del Worsham's series record holding numbers of 3.196 - 275.57, turned at last year's edition of this event.

The provisional "A" Field is rounded out with #8 qualifying Lyle Greenberg, who has certainly stepped up his program this year as evidenced by his performance at the March Meet earlier in the month, with a very good 3.759 - 200.86 clocking. Those numbers roughly equate to a mid-to-high 5.60 in the quarter mile. The "B" field qualifiers range from #9 Jeff Cameron, in at 3.802 - 197.13, down to #16 Don Knoblauch, who travelled all the way from Sumner, WA to this event, with his best ever 3.962 - 188.56 times.

The "C" field started with #17 Dustin Bradford, at an improved 3.999 - 180.39, followed by a bunch of low 4-second racers, culminating with Swedish racer Joe Ljungberg at 4.149 - 173.67. Finally, the "D" field ranged from #25 qualifier Dave Gallegos in his "Nitro Clwon", coming in at 4.162 - 142.16, and finishing at #32 Matt Nissen's 4.431 - 165.10. Trailing him were 16 racers, including some series regulars, like Jade Cook, who finished #3 in the FCC standings last year, but currently sits 33rd with a 4.504 - 160.11, with a number of much more powerful cars well below her on the list.

With a final qualifying session on tap at noon today (CDT), these numbers and positions are certainly subject to change and we'll do our best to download and post the final results as soon as they are posted. Stay tuned for that and for many more photos from Thursday and Friday.

Qualifying Completed at the Funny Car Chaos Classic

We've just received the final qualifying results, and there weren't a lot of changes to the four fields. The #32 qualifier (Smiley Cordero), anchored the "D" field at a solid 4.287 - 169.37, and, despite her best efforts, last year's "Rookie of The Year" Jade Cook remained just on the outside with a much improved (from Friday's best of 4.504 - 160.11) with an oh-so-close 4.296 - 163.67 timeslip. She could still get into the "D" field if at least one of the 32 racers ahead of her is unable to show for the first round of eliminations this evening.

Some "name" racers unable to make the show were Julie Natass in her highly publicized debut in an A/Fuel Funny as the Randy Meyer team could only muster a best of 11.843 - 42.57 after four days of trying to make their new car work. It looks like it's back to the drawing board for them. Another shocker was Kebin Kinsley failing to get the Howard & Shane Farris-owned "War Wagon" into the show, as their Friday pass of 15.433 - 29.32 was their best numbers of the weekend. Quite a shock after they put this car into the record books as a Fuel Altered last year at the Texas FallNationals, with an awesome performance of 5.06 - 304.59 over the quarter-mile. While the e.t. wasn't a record, the speed was the fastest ever for an altered-bodied car.

Other notable non-qualifiers were newly married Keith Jackson in his "High Heaven" Camaro, Anthony Whitfield in his unique blown fuel small-block Chevy "Mighty Mouse", and a host of regulars on the FCC circuit. Of the 57 cars that went through tech, five never made it down the track at all. Having the worst luck of all (other than Ken Singleton of course), was the car chief on the Scott Palmer Top Fuel car, Rick Ducusin who made a test pass on Wednesday in his brand-new NHRA 'Big Show' "Alien Invasion" car. It skated across both lanes, smacked the wall hard and destroyed the front half of the chassis and body before the 330' mark.

When qualifying closed, the "A" field remained exactly the same as it was on Friday, with Ronny Young still on top with low e.t. and top speed (3.329 - 264.16), and #8 Lyle Greenberg holding down the bottom of that field at 3.759 - 200.86.

Jeff Cameron remained on top of the "B" field with a slightly improved 3.793 - 199.27 in the #9 position. Don Knoblauch moved up from his solid 3.962 Friday pass, good for #16 to the #14 spot with a better 3.907 - 188.73. Making a huge leap up the ladder was Dave Hill, as he moved from a 44th best 6.557 on Friday to a #16 qualifying 3.920 - 187.25 on his last attempt to take the bump spot in the field.

In the "C" field, Michael Tobacco dropped from #15 to #17 to take top spot in that group with his Friday best of 3.952 - 181.95 mph. Right behind him was Tom Furches who improved from a 4.004 to a 3.976 - 163.27, despite shutting off early. The last 3-second car was Dustin Bradford who stood on his 3.999 from Friday, but dropped two spots to #19 on the list. Below him, the rest of the "C" field stayed the same, dropping one spot each, with Chris Schneider ending up on the bump with his Friday best of 4.114 - 179.68 in the "Brutus" Mustang.

The final eight started with #25 Joacim (Joe) Ljungberg at 4.149, and closed with Smiley Cordero holding down the last spot (#32) with his 4.287 - 169.37 on his last attempt slightly bettering his Friday 4.297 effort. Even with the improvement, he dropped two spots in the order as Matt Nissen stepped up with a 4.250, good for #30 after his Friday 4.431 best. Falling out of the field, down to #34 on the final tally, was Steve Wiley who dropped from the 31st spot as he couldn't improve on his earlier 4.334 - 155.16 timeslip.

The first round of eliminations is scheduled for 6:30 PM (CDT) and if there are any changes due to breakage, we will update this report before racing starts this evening. As always: Stay Tuned!


The latest update as of March 25, 2022

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2nd annual FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC is happening!

Here's our first batch of photos from yesterday's test session, in preparation for the BIG event, starting with the first qualifying session at noon (CDT) today. There's another session this evening, with the later cars running under the lights. And then it really revs up tomorrow with a final qualifying session at noon, followed by six hours of non-stop eliminations from 5:00 pm until... whenver it's done. It's going to be a great show and we'll have as much of the details and tons of photos as we can post up as soon as we can. Stay tuned and remember to refresh/reload this page each time you visit.

We've only got time this morning to fill in the first two captions. The balance of the writing, plus the rest of Thursday's photos will be posted later today.

Dave Kommel & Chirs Graves

Before the test session started, the Funny Car Chaos crew got their merchandise stand setup, with Chris Graves (right) running the show. Visiting before taking his usual spot at the 200' mark, was veteran (putting it mildly!) photographer Dave Kommel, (center) who's enjoying his "retirement" by just going to select races now. That's Dave's wife on the left.

Nick Johnson - 'Razzle Dazzle' - BB/FC --- Ken Singleton - 'High Risk' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Coming out with a new car was series regular Nick Johnson, who was formerly partnered Wayne Reinert in the "Prairie Fire" car, and is now on his own with his "Razzle Dazzle" entry. His first attempt was an on-and-off-and-on affair with the timers stopping at 4.718 - 124.51 that gave him a starting point.

(RIGHT) Three-time defending series champion Ken Singleton also had a new body, new paint and a new sponsor (Maxima Batteries), and had a wild first pass of the year. He skated all over his lane early, taking out the 330' timing block, then fishtailing back into his lane - without lifting - and blasted through the lights at 3.865 - 161.93. Even with all the extra distance travelled and an early shutoff, he still ran a mid-3.80 on his first attempt.

Jonathan Johnson - Blown Fuel Hemi front-engine dragster --- Mike Buchanan - 'Hombre' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Test sessions see all types of car, and this blown fuel late model Hemi-powered slingshot dragster, being driven by Texas Drag Racing Association member Jonathan Johnson laid down a good run. I'll have to review the video to see what the timelsip looked like.

(RIGHT) Still making a very old-school short wheelbase Vega-bodied car work, Mike Buchanan went up in smoke on the launch, then pedalled the "Hombre" to a 6.044 - 108.47 clocking.

Keith Zimmerer - 'Penny Pincher' - AA/FA --- Levi Keenen - 'Illinois Thunder' - AA/FC

(LEFT) The first fuel altered to run was Keith Zimmerer in his "Penny Pincher" '32 Bantam, and he was off the throttle early, coasting through the lights at 4.602 - 114.68 mph.

(RIGHT) Making some serious noise, the "Illinois Thunder" Plymouth Arrow of Levi Keenen put down a good 4.061 - 192.03, despite a very lazy launch of 1.173 at the 60' clocks.

Julie Nataas - A/FC --- Steve Timoszyk - 'Detroit Tiger' - BB/FC

(LEFT) One of the biggest stories coming into the event was the brand-new and untested "project car" out of Randy Meyer Racing, being driven by Julie Nataas. After not getting very far down track in a private test session on Wednesday, the car instantly went up in smoke on the launch, and barely rolled to the finish line at 16-seconds and 21 mph. Still a few bugs to sort out.

(RIGHT) Back for another season of FCC competition, Michigan's Steve Timoszyk hauled down his "Detroit Tiger" Monza and put down a decent 4.262 - 141.19 to knock the rust off the driver and crew.

Donny McSwain - 'Wild One' - AA/FA --- Tod Barker - 'Back in Black - A/FC

(LEFT) Another one of the dozen or so Fuel Altereds in the pits, Donny McSwain lit up the tires on the "Wild One" on the burnout, but was forced to shut off before staging with an unknown problem.

(RIGHT) Getting on the injected nitro bandwagon was series regular, Tod Barker in the "Back in Black" 'Vette. His first pass with the combination wasn't terribly successful, with a 7-second 64-mph result lighting up the scoreboard.

A/Fuel Altered licensing pass --- Aaron Morrow - 'Nitro Relapse'

(LEFT) The first A/Fuel Altered (injected nitro) altered to get down the track was this unidentified car and driver that were reportedly making a license pass. It did pretty well for a first pass, with a stunning 3.856 - 161.31 showing on the timers, putting this team at the top of the class. See the closeup view of the engine below.

(RIGHT) Switching over from AA/Fuel Altered trim to a Funny Car for 2022, the Darby & Morrow team, with Aaron Morrow at the wheel, made their FCC debut with the "Nitro Relapse". The car headed for the centerline early, before Morrow clicked it off and coasted down at 5.831 - 80.71 mph.

A/Fuel Altered engine closeup

It might not be as fancy as the setup on the Randy Meyer car, but it obviously works.

Tom Furches - 'Made in America' --- Michael Anderson - Blown Fuel SBC front-engine dragster

(LEFT) After a first pass that resulted in an early shutoff (4.341 - 129.55), last year's #5 finisher in points, Tom Furches instantly lit up the tires and coasted to a 16-second clocking on his second try in the "Made in America" Corvette.

(RIGHT) Another member of the TDRA, in a slingshot dragster, Michael Anderson, pushed his blown (not sure if it's nitro or alky) small-block Chevy car to a decent clocking that will have to be dug up from the YouTube video of the session.

license pass - 'Pyscho Too' - AA/FA --- Shayne Lawson - 'Man O' War' - BB/FC

(LEFT) From the Outlaw Fuel Altereds website we know that the "Psycho Too" is owned by Wilkins %amp; Gilliland, but we don't know who was driving on this "license" pass as the car stopped the timers at 5.720 - 136.47 mph.

(RIGHT) Having trouble early with the car heading for the centerline, Shayne Lawson had to wrestle the Mustang-bodied "Man O' War" back into the groove before shutting off to a 5.966 at 78.35 mph.

Ray Stringer - 'Blown Cent-Less' - AA/FC --- Chuck Loftin - 'Motivation' - AA/FC

(LEFT) Running one of the only (possibly the only) blown fuel Big-Block Chevy Funny Car in the world, New Mexico's Ray Stringer ran hard for a few hundred feet before clicking the "Blown Cent-Less" to a 4.941 - 115.22 pass.

(RIGHT) It took quite a few passes before the first 200-mph speed came up on the scoreboards, but Chuck Loftin managed it with a very good 3.895 - 203.34 out of his "Motivation" Mustang.

Dustin Bradford - 'American Dream' - BB/FC --- Chris Schneider - 'Brutus' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Joining the 3-second bunch due to some off-season improvements, Dustin Bradford rang up a very good 3.948 - 184.90 out of the 'Cuda-bodied "American Dream" entry.

(RIGHT) Another one of the familiar faces at FCC races, "Brutus" Mustang of John Troxel, driven by Chris Schneider made a decent 4.302 - 173.94 on their first pass.

Raymond Dawson - 'High Octane' - AA/FA --- Wayne Hofmann - 'China Syndrome' - BB/FC

(LEFT) It was pretty much a usual run for the next Fuel Altered out of the lanes, as the "High Octane" car of Raymond Dawson wiggled it's way to a 4.468 - 151.21 that showed there was definitely serious potential.

(RIGHT) A name out of the distant past, the "China Syndrome" Dodge Omni of Wayne Hofmann, (son of famous NHRA Nitro Funny Car racer Al Hofmann) debuted his new blown alky car with a troubled 5.016 - 97.84 pass. The car wouldn't shift, necessitating an early shutoff.

Donnie Massey - 'Showtime' - AA/FA --- Keith Zimmerer - 'Penny Pincher' - AA/FA

(LEFT) More Fuel altereds, with Donnie Massey out next, but the burnout was as much as the "Showtime" was capable of before shutting off.

(RIGHT) The next AA/FA up was the "Penny Pincher" (not sure if the name is still on the car) of Keith Zimmerer who laid down a very impressive 3.809 - 196.78 to set the pace for the Fuel Altered contingent.

Joe Ljungberg - 'Raw Valley' - BB/FC --- Alex Barker - 'Back in Black' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Coming all the way from Sweden to drive a California-based car, Joacim "Joe" Ljungberg put down a solid 4.274 - 167.56 in the "Raw Valley" entry.

(RIGHT) One of the "Back in Black" cars, the Firebird-bodied car of Alex Barker (son of Tod Barker, driver of the other 'B in B' car) bogged on the launch and shut off to a 8.921 - 47.49 clocking.

Christine Foster - 'Family Feud' - TA/FC --- Julie Nataas - 'Randy Meyer Racing' - A/FC

(LEFT) After a number of years driving an NHRA Top Alcohol car, Christine Foster (nee Chambless), brought out the second Foster family car, aptly named "Family Feud", but shook and pedalled to a 4.869 - 111.94 to start her weekend.

(RIGHT) Making another pass, and still igniting the tires on the launch was Julie Natass who recorded a 15-second pass at only 24 mph as the car barely made it to the 660' mark before stopping. Our starting line correspondent, Bob Snyder, noticed that all the raw fuel accumulating in the headers at idle was dripping out through the holes drilled in the bottom of them and puddling in front of the fires. Should be a simple fix, but what do we know?

License Pass --- Clay Cunningham - 'Still Crazy - BB/FC

(LEFT) Another unidentified car making a license pass was this one, but the results weren't very good at 9.720 - 97.82 mph.

(RIGHT) He's certainly sane, but the car is "Still Crazy" as driver Clay Cunningham is back for another season of FCC racing, but got off to a bad start by breaking on the burnout.

Kyle Smith - 'PC Disposal' - TA/FC --- Jade Cook - 'Nemesis' - A/FC

(LEFT) Bannering a new sponsor ("PC Disposal.com", the #8 finisher in the NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car standings, Kyle Smith blitzed the timers to the tune of 3.655 - 181.57 to nearly set low e.t. for the day. He was only slightly behind Ken Singleton (no picture posted) who turned a best of 3.609 - 216.01 for the best numbers ever for his "High Risk" entry.

(RIGHT) Ready to contend for Top Ten honours again after her great rookie season, finishing #3 in the standings, Jade Cook was unable to show what the "Nemesis" car was capable of as she couldn't get it in reverse after the burnout.

Jeff Cameron - 'Jake's Speed Shop' - BB/FC --- Jeff Krug - 'Obsession' - BB/FC

(LEFT) Last year's #7 in FCC points, Jeff Cameron is still sponsored by "Jake's Speed Shop", but appears to have a new paint scheme happening. It looks partly finished (at least we hope so) with the current look being a drastic change from last year's glossy black colour. His first pass of the week ended with him pedalling and giving up to a 9.229 - 106.36 clocking.

(RIGHT) The familiar "Obsession" entry of Jeff Krug didn't have a great time with the car losing fire while attempting to stage.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - AA/FC

After a disappointing outing three weeks ago at the March Meet, where he ended up as third alternate, nearly eight tenths short of the bump spot, Don Knoblauch had a better start to his Classic weekend with an on-and-off 4.080 - 189.22 to show some potential for future improvement.

Funny Car lineup --- Chris Graves on the microphone

(LEFT) After the test session ended, the Funny Cars lined up for a group photo with approx. 50 cars on the track. Our photographer was able to get upstairs in the tower and capture this great shot from the third floor.

(RIGHT) Holding the microphone and explaining what was about to happen is Funny Car Chaos founder Chris Graves.

Wedding ceremony in progress --- Wedding ceremony completed

In a special finish to the day, Keith & Natalie Jackson were wed on the starting line, with all the Funny Cars assembled behind them. The wedding ceremony is in progress (left) and completed (right).

Bride & Bridesmaid --- Keith & Natalie Jackson reception

(LEFT) The happy Bride & Bridesmaid leave the ceremony

(RIGHT) Afterwards, in the pits, the happy couple, Keith Jackson (left) and Natalie Jackson (next to him) celebrated their marriage.

Bob Snyder & girlfriend

Bob Snyder with his "new girlfriend"

If you're a FLORacing subscriber, then you can watch the event on their livestream, but if you just want to see the testing video from Thursday (for FREE), catch it on the Funny Car Chaos YouTube channel.


The latest update as of March 23, 2022

The news of the Randy Meyer team competing in an injected nitro-burning Funny Car at this week's Funny Car Chaos Classic is certainly making the rounds, with the announcement being bannered on the NHRA website, Competition Plus, and Drag Illustrated, among others, including this humble little corner of the internet. Thanks to Bob Snyder for getting us the news as soon as it was posted on the Meyer website, even before it appeared on the major websites.

As a followup to yesterday's story on Competition Plus, they've reloaded a story about the history of the injected nitro Funny Car as it developed and ultimately, was deleted from the rulebooks of all the sanctioning bodies. It brought back memories of all the sanctioning bodies that tried, and eventually failed, to compete with the NHRA. The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) (still alive, but realistically, in name only), the American Hot Rod Association (AHRA), the United Drag Racers Association (UDRA). There were even PRO and PRA, racer-led organizations that held a couple of big events in 1972 and 1973, then quickly imploded.

Yes, there are new bodies in existence, but they are regionally based and don't have a wide range of classes. The Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) started in the Southeast and featured Pro Mod and Pro Stock cars, but to diversify their shows, added several other classes, including bikes, dragsters, and others. The Mid-West Drag Racing Series was, until last year, almost exclusively focused on Pro Mod and Pro Stock, but with an infusion of sponsorship money from J&A Services, were able to add an Alcohol Funny Car class. There's a couple of dozen other, narrowly focused, regionally based associations, all producing some good racing, but nothing remotely approaching the size and status of the NHRA.

And that's where we loop back to the start of this report, with a story of how injected nitro funny cars existed in NHRA competition, why they don't currently, but how they just might be coming back. Here's the story from Competition Plus, titled THE INJECTED NITRO FUNNY CAR COMBINATION HAS RICH HISTORY.

It will be very interesting to see how the Meyer experiment goes. There's lots of reasons why it might not work as it appears that they have yet to test this car. However, that may be a little misleading, as Randy Meyer is one of the pre-eminent injected fuel racers anywhere, and never appears without a solid tuneup in his cars. To think that they wouldn't be fully prepared to be competitive right out of the trailer would be foolish. Putting a driver with no experience in a Funny Car behind the wheel might be the only flaw in his plan, but I'm certain that Julie Nataas is ready to tackle whatever task she is given.

At the very least, the appearance of this A/FC is certainly going to add some spice and excitement to the mix at this year's Funny Car Chaos Classic, starting in less than 24 hours at the Texas Motorplex. A quick check of the entry list now shows 58 Funny Cars and 13 Fuel Altereds. Even if the numbers don't quite match last year's "Woodstock", it's still going to be one helluva drag race. As they used to say (maybe still do...) BE THERE!!!

At this point, the only options to see the race are to attend in person, or subscribe to FLO Racing, at a cost of $150 (USD) on a yearly basis. While they do offer lots of racing, the only serious drag racing they provide is the Funny Car Chaos series, but they don't offer individual events, as does NHRA on their NHRA.tv website. Too bad that a free livestream wasn't available, as has been done for many events in recent years, but "monetizing content" seems to be the way to go in the current internet world.

NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster & Funny Car

With a late rush of entries over the past few days, there are now 21 cars/drivers on the entry list for the upcoming NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas. It's five blown alky cars and 16 injected nitro entries, but this is one of the largest fields in the past few years. The last race at Vegas, last season's Dodge//SRT Nationals attracted 23 entries for the penultimate event on the 2021 schedule, a race with major championship implications. Other than that event, the 2019 U.S. Nationals (Indy) with 22 entries topped the entry list for next week's race at The Strip. It's a good sign for a class that is seeing fewer blown, and more injected cars all the time.

In sharp contrast to the numbers in T/AD, the alcohol Funny Car entry list is still struggling, with just ten cars entered as of this morning. This will mark the third race this year with less than a full field of TA/FCs. Last season saw only two full fields (17 entries each), with the second Vegas race and Indy being the only full shows. The participation numbers have fallen a long way from the 22 entries at the 2020 U.S. Nationals, which was the high water mark for alky Funny Cars in the past few seasons.


The latest update as of March 22, 2022

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2nd annual FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC starts in TWO DAYS!

Tomorrow morning the racers will arrive at the Texas Motorplex for a three-day extravaganza of speed. Starting with a full day of testing on Thursday, followed by two qualifying sessions on Friday, before finishing with the final qualifying session at noon on Saturday, followed by three rounds of eliminations on Saturday night. The second qualifying session on Friday and the last two rounds of eliminations on Saturday will be run under the lights, giving the spectators a tremendous show.

We knew that it was going to be difficult to top last year's inaugural event which saw 68 Funny Cars, and more than a dozen Fuel Altereds in competition, but this year's entry list is almost as long. The latest numbers as of Tuesday March 22 at 11:00 AM PDT shows 57 confirmed FC entries, plus two "Mystery" cars, and 14 Fuel Altereds from the Outlaw Fuel Altered Association. This year's edition doesn't have quite the "star" power of last year's race, but the lineup is still mighty impressive with at least 17 blown fuel floppers and seven NHRA Top Alcohol cars running.

As was the case at last year's event, there will be four 8-car fields, with a total guaranteed payout of $60,000. Of that total, $10,000 goes to the winner of the "A" field and there's an additional bonus of $1500 for the winner of a "Fabulous Four Shootout" event-within-an-event.

Late UPDATE concerning the FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC

We just read the news about what might be one of the "mystery" cars on the pre-entry list for this week's Chaos Classic at the Texas Motorplex. And this one came absolutely out of nowhere. The team concerned has been working on their "project" flopper over the winter and today it was unveiled via a story on the Randy Meyer Racing website.

This could be quite a story, especially in light of the presumed absence of a return appearance by the Del & Chuck Worsham "Big Show" Funny Car team. They didn't win last year's event, but came in runner-up and absolutely obliterated the FCC records with a mind-bending 3.196 - 275.57 performance in the semi-final round of the "A" field. Aside from the two-car (Ray Martin drove a lower powered version) Worhsam team, NHRA regular Terry Haddock and occasional competitor Todd Simpson, among others competed. In all, there were nearly a dozen twin-mag blown fuel cars at the first Chaos Classic race.

It's been a long time since NHRA had an A/Funny Car class for injected nitro-burning entries, but the idea has been floating around in one form or another for quite a while since the class was discontinued when NHRA turned Pro Comp into sepearate Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car categories in 1980. The last racer to try fielding an A/FC was Scott Weis, who dabbled with the idea in IHRA competition before it was banned by that sanctioning body. He countered that setback by bolting on a blower and running in Top Fuel until that became too expensive for anyone but a heavily sponsored racer.

The Randy Meyer - Julie Nataas experiment will be very interesting to watch, to see if Randy can transfer his tuning talents from a long skinny car to a short wide one. Similarly, Julie will have to very quickly learn how to handle a short-wheelbase front-engined car. To my knowledge, she has never driven a car in this class, unless she made some super-secret test laps at the Frank Hawley school over the winter to earn her crossover license. Two factors in her favour for this weekend are that the event is at the Texas Motorplex, a very well-prepped track, and Funny Car Chaos only runs an 1/8-th mile racing distance. Checking on the results from the recently completed Gatornationals, the best run made by a Top Alcohol Funny Car to the 1/8-th mile was 3.56 - 215 mph. Not exactly a cruise down main street and something for Meyer & Nataas to aim for.

Our photographer, BIG Bob Snyder, will be catching a 5:05 a.m. flight from Phoenix to Dallas tomorrow morning and will be at the track in the early afternoon. Stay tuned for some pics from the "move-in" day (tomorrow) on Thursday morning. Then it's three more days of testing and racing until late Saturday night. We'll be posting pictures and results as they come in over the weekend. As always: STAY TUNED!

Julie Nataas with her A/FC --- A/FC engine

Pictures copyright 2022 by Randy Meyer Racing


The latest update as of March 19, 2022

NHRA Heritage Series and Top Alcohol Points standings

As promised, here's the latest (unofficial) points standings in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series (Nostalgia Funny Car & Top Fuel), and the NHRA Top Alcohol classes (Dragster and Funny Car). There are several discrepancies between the numbers posted on the NHRA.com website and our calculations, and with the introduction of the new points waiver protocol for the Top Alcohol cars, it will be difficult to be sure of exactly what's happening until the official numbers are posted a day or three after each event. Even then, I still see mistakes in the official postings.

NHRA Heritage Series AA/FC Points - March 7, 2022

It's a new season but the same name, Bobby Cottrell, is still at the top of the standings. The 2021 Heritage Series Funny Car champ is off to a good start in 2022, taking the win at the season opening Good Vibrations March Meet two weeks ago. With four consecutive championships, the (Bucky) Austin & O'Brien team out of the Nortwest shows no signs of slowing down their dominating pace. Below the top rung are a few surprises, with Geoff Monise, who finished runner-up at the March Meet, in the #2 slot, and Cory Lee and "Hollywood" Kris Krabill in a tie for the #3 position in the standings. A total of 24 Nostalgia Funny Cars competed at the opening event of the six race season, and it appears the class is healthy and, judging by the e.t.'s at Famoso, will again be very competitive this year.

NHRA Heritage Series AA/FD Points - March 7, 2022

In contrast to the Funny Car contingent, the Top Fuel class is still plagued by low participant numbers as just nine cars showed up for the March Meet, the same number that ran at the last few events at Famoso. At the 2020 March Meet there were 12 cars running, and at the 2019 California Hot Rod Reunion, a total of 14 cars attempted to qualify for the field. The reasons for the dwindling participant numbers are many, with cost - as in all classes that utilize nitro and blowers - being the primary cause.

Add to that a rules structure that sees a very narrow rear tire, a low-power magneto, and a too small fuel pump that makes it difficult to run a Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster. We know that changing any of those factors could lead to runaway costs, engine carnage, and safety concerns for the front-engine cars. The solution to these woes is certainly not apparent, nor is it on the horizon.

Even with all those factors working against them, there were some great performances at Bakersfield, and a new leader, Bret Williamson at the top of the charts, with multi-time former champion Jim Murphy right behind in the #2 spot. The biggest surprise was the non qualifying of last year's champion, Dan Horan Jr., who not only failed to qualify, but failed to reach the final round of a Heritage Series event for the first time since the 2020 season.

NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster Points - March 14, 2022

NHRA's Top Alcohol Dragster class is certain to see a new season champion for the third straight year, following the retirement of 2020's (and 2019) champion Megan Meyer and the temporary (or longer) departure of last year's title holder Rachel Meyer. However, the championship could certainly go to the (Randy) Meyer Racing for the fourth year in a row. This season it's Julie Nataas in the team's #1 car and she's off to a good start in 2022, leading the points standings after two national and three regional events. Interestingly, Julie waived her points at the Gatornationals, despite a runnerup finish.

With the new rules regarding points earning for the Top Alcohol cars this season, we're only going to find out who has waived a race after the fact. In previous years, a racer could waive their points following an event, but now if they wish to do so, it has to be done before the first car starts their engine in the first qualifying session. That's quite a departure from the previous after-the-fact option, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

One other change that will affect the points chase is that a racer can claim points from their best six of the first ten national events, instead of best five of ten, as was done previously. And the change also applies to regional events, with racers claiming their best four of their first six races, instead of the old formula of best three out of the first five. It is to be noted, that if a racer decides to waive the points at an event, that the event will still count against their quota for the year.

One other racer who has executed a waiver already is last year's championship runnerup, Jackie Fricke, who waived her Gatornationals points. Looking at her mediocre results at the first two regional events, both of which resulted in first-round losses, the John Finke-led team must have felt their chances at Gainesville weren't good enough to risk using up the event. One racer who isn't in the top 20, and hasn't run at all this season is last year's #3, Shawn Cowie, who has sat out the first two months of the season, but is on the entry list for the 4-Wide race at Las Vegas at the beginning of April. His return to racing will almost certainly see some changes in the standings within the next month.

NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car Points - March 14, 2022

The Funny Car class has seen some low competitor numbers so far this year, with just nine racers at Pomona for the Winternationals, and only six competitors at the Gatornationals. Participation on the regional event has ranged from just three at the season-opening race at Belle Rose, LA to a full field of eight cars at the latest regional at Phoenix. The low turnouts have been a persistent feature at NHRA national events for several years now, with just two full 16-car fields last year, at Indy and the second Las Vegas race. The 2020 saw the same results with the same two races featuring full fields, with the 2020 U.S. Nationals race seeing 20 cars competing.

Despite the low entry numbers, the quality of competition is getting better every year. And this season has seen former champion Shane Westerfield dominating in the early going, winning both races he's entered in a season that will see the Rick Jackson team in serious contention for another title. Last year's champion Sean Bellemeur is well down in the standings at the moment but that will certainly change in the next month as the team has entered two of the next three races on the schedule. And the 2020 national champion, Doug Gordon, is running strongly and will definitely contend for another championship.

After those three racers, there are several teams that are very close in performance and will make it difficult for anyone to run away with the championship. From the East Coast, Matt Gill (in the to-be-run final from Gainesville) and D.J. Cox Jr., are solid 5.40-runners and are real threats at any race they attend. From the west coast, Chris Marshall, Brian Hough, and Nick Januik are solidly in the mix to make for a very tough Top Ten when they all get up to speed for the 2022 season.

NOTE: The two racers (Sean Bellemeur & Matt Gill) with their Gatornationals points backgrounded in yellow have to run the final round at that event at the upcoming Charlotte event, the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the end of April. The winner of that match will gain 21 points, while the loser will not gain any points.


The latest update as of March 18, 2022

It's been a busy week, too busy to write much on this page, but we have been working behind the scenes to complete our coverage of the recently (nearly two weeks ago now) completed Good Vibrations March Meet. It's available for viewing through the Features page link on the left side of the page. This weekend we'll update that page with two events we covered earlier in the year, the PRO Nitro Spring Training and NHRA Arizona Nationals, both held at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, near Phoenix, AZ.

Next week sees the opening of the Funny Car Chaos season with their biggest event of the year at the Texas Motorplex, the 2nd annual Funny Car Chaos Classic, billed as "The BIGGEST FUNNY CAR RACE in the WORLD!", and rightly so, with more than 60 Funny Cars and as a bonus, 14 Fuel Altereds, already pre-entered. We'll have our regular correspondent BIG Bob Snyder on hand to capture all the action with his clutch of Nikon cameras and hope to be able to start posting his work as early as next Friday. Stay tuned for that report as you won't want to miss it.

Starting the week following the FCC opener, there will be two back-to-back NHRA events at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. First up is the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, followed by a Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Western Regional event. On the same weekend as the NHRA regional, there will also be a Funny Car and Fuel Altered show, presented by the United Nitro Funny Cars, (yes, they still exist) at Tucson Dragway. Our photographer will be there to capture all that action for Northern Thunder. And there is a chance that we might see some of Bob Snyder's work from the 4-Wide Nationals at Vegas if all goes to plan.

We'll be back tomorrow with the points standings from several series, and some out-takes from the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Don't miss it!

The latest update as of March 12, 2022

Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals UPDATE

We're well into day three of the 53rd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, and we've yet to see a race car go down the track. It started raining in Florida on Wednesday but stopped on Thursday afternoon long enough for the Safety Safari crew to start prepping the track. However, they weren't able to complete it before the end of the day. Friday morning saw more rain, which continued all day, and even the Safari crew never got near the track. The plan shifted to an 8:00 a.m. start on Saturday, with track prep planned for a very early start that morning.

We're now more than halfway through Saturday, and while track prep is continuing, there still aren't any race cars in the staging lanes. The weather websites show that it's sunny, but with an air temp of just 56 (F), and forecast to drop into the high 40's in the next few hours. That could put the fuel cars into a danger zone where a too-cold track could tear up the drive tires or lead to uncontrollable tireshake. The combination of cold, dense air would give the tuners another headache to deal with, trying to dial back the extra power created by those atmospheric conditions.

I'm not privy to what is going on behind the scenes and the three major websites that are covering the race, NHRA.com, DragRaceCentral.com, and CompetitionPlus.com haven't posted any info about what is going to - or NOT going to - happen today. And just to add one more wrinkle to the equation is the weather forecast for tomorrow, which shows temperatures plunging into the high 20's (29 degrees) in the morning, before climbing to 49 degrees at noon. Again, that is a very cold temperature to be racing a high-horsepower car in.

There is a serious possibility of the race being postponed until next week, as there is an open weekend available, but I'm betting that NHRA will try to press on regardless, at least until the first pair of Top Fuel cars go down the track. The worst case scenario in my mind would be to cancel qualifying and seed the cars into eliminations based on their points standings, effectively cutting off racers that are making season debuts at this event. As for the sportsman racers, it's not looking good at all as they will take a definite backseat to the PRO classes and may see their participation cancelled or severely curtailed.

All of the above is simply conjecture, but as the time in Gainesville is now nearing 3:00 pm, and... HOLD THE PHONE... there are race cars going down the track as of 2:49 PM. They've started with Factory Stock Showdown and the first five pairs have gone down the track with no trouble and running some very fast times. The latest plan is to follow the FSS cars with the Top Alcohol classes, then into Top Fuel. The sun is shining and the air temp is now 58 degrees and they're RACING in Gainesville. Let the "Big Show" begin!

With the NHRA.tv broadcast up and running, the grandstands appear to be nearly full and the first pair of Factory Stock Showdown cars ran under the national record. OMG, qualifying could be incredible if the cars can keep hooked up today. We'll have more news on the event as things develop. Oh, one of the Drag Pack Dodge Challengers just ran the quickest and fastest FSS pass ever at 7.669 - 180.96, only to be eclipsed by the next car down the track with an even quicker 7.664 e.t. in a Mustang. Hang on, this could be (or already is) wild.

Now it's officially out of control - performance-wise - as Mark Pawuk (yes, the former long-time Pro Stock racer) just obliterated all the records with his Drag Pack Dodge, cranking out a 7.608 - 283.15 pass to take the top spot in the field. That run will probably have the Tech department scrambling to rewrite a number of the rules for the Showdown class. Or at the very least, put some major handicaps on the Dodge combinations. Stay tuned for that!

In other news

We've been working on completing our coverage of the Good Vibrations March Meet throughout the week, but it's been a bit of a slog filling in all the details and captioning all the photos (almost all of which have been posted). That work will continue for another few days but we will get it finished and get ready for the opening race of the Funny Car Chaos season, coming up in just two weeks at the Texas Motorplex. Lots to write about that event, and we will have at least one correspondent attending to provide us with as much photographic coverage as we can handle.


The latest update as of March 8, 2022

Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals UPDATE

A quick check of the NHRA website reveals that some entry numbers are increasing, as we now have a total of 21 Top Alcohol Dragsters, but just seven Funny Cars as one racer (Bob McCosh Jr.) withdrew. In the PRO ranks, Top Fuel and Pro Stock have very healthy numbers, with 21 entries each, while Funny Car has 16 and Pro Stock Motorcycle has also gathered a full field. Pro Mod, which was slow to build has now got a full field of 16 entries. There's quite a difference in the Top Alcohol classes though, with 21 dragsters entered, and only seven Funny Cars. Despite that shortfall, it looks like a good turnout of racers in most categories for one of the major events on the NHRA Camping World Schedule.

There's also a bonus event on tap: The Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel callout, a new creation featuring the top eight qualifiers from the past season and the first two events of 2022. The most unique feature of the race-within-a-race will be the ability of the #1 qualifier (b>Steve Torrence) to "call-out" his first round opponent. He not only has lane choice but his choice of competitor. While an 8-car format usually pairs the #1 and #8 qualifier, he can pick anyone else in the field, not simply the lowest qualified. And just like regular competition, lane choice and choice of opponent in each round goes to the quicker car in the previous round. It's a made for television event, but it's a new twist on an all-star format and could be very interesting.


2022 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet poster

The latest update as of March 7, 2022


64th annual Good Vibrations March Meet - Sunday Eliminations

Eliminations began under semi-threatening skies, with the Nitro Funny Cars leading the way. Normally they would run their first round on Saturday afternoon, but due to the multitude of weather-related delays, it was a Sunday morning start for them. With four rounds of racing, it was going to be an endurance test for the nostalgia racers. We'll post groups of photos as we get through the next few days, round by round, starting with Sunday's eliminations and working backwards to Thursday's test session. Keep refreshing/reloading this page to see the latest updates and additions.

Tuesday afternoon update: All the PRO eliminations have been posted, mostly with photos. From this point forward, we'll post the balance of the March Meet coverage in our Features section, starting tomorrow.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round One Eliminations

Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' (near lane) vs Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Gary Densham - 'Teacher's Pet'

(LEFT) The opening pairing of eliminations set the pace for the balance of the first round. Both cars left hard, with Geoff Monise (left lane) a little slower out of the gate than Tim Boychuk (right lane) but he quickly overcame the deficit to take a two car length victory, posting a 5.706 - 253.09 to Boychuk's piston burning 5.847 - 234.94 numbers.

(RIGHT) In the next pairing, Gary Densham overstaged, triggered an automatic redlight when the tree flashed, then waited until opponent Drew Austin was halfway down the track before launching and running hard to the finish line, albeit with no times recorded. Austin took the automatic win but didn't spare the horses with a great 5.648 - 253.37 effort.

'California Hustler' starting line repairs --- Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' (near lane) vs Billy Morris - 'Problem 
Child' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Some last minute adjustments were required on the California Hustler fuel system after the burnout as it appeared there was a leaky nozzle line.

(RIGHT) Another case of left last, finish first, as Billy Morris's .124 light (far lane) didn't hurt him as he passed Kamaka Pocock's quicker .075 launch, and turned on the winlight with a very quick 5.634 - 249.21 as Morris trailed with a solid 5.871 - 247.29 clocking. Morris was trailing at half track but pulled away after that.

John Weaver - 'Nitro Nut' (near lane) vs Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardhal Special' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno' (near lane) vs Jerry Espeseth - 
'Atlas' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Appearing at a nostalgia race for the first time in a while, California veteran John Weaver (near lane) was very late (.211 reaction) on the lights, then nearly took out the 660' reflectors before over-correcting and bouncing off the guardwall. He finally gathered up his errant mount and coasted through to record 6.310 - 163.14 numbers. In the other lane, Bobby Cottrell had some directional problems too as the car wanted to skate around early in the run, before gathering it up and running low e.t. of the round at 5.632 - 244.16.

(RIGHT) The next race was over early as Jerry Espeseth (far lane) spun the tires hard on the launch and shut off to a 9.550 - 100.76 clocking. He left first on opponent Rian Konno (near lane) by nearly a tenth, but it all evaporated in a cloud of instant tire smoke. Taking advantage of his predicament, Konno moved into the next round from the #13 qualifying spot with a solid 5.754 - 247.11 winning time. Unfortunately, after crossing the finish line, a large fire erupted underneath Konno's car and it blazed all the way through the shutdown area. Fortunately, there were no injuries to the driver, but it looked very unlikely that the car would be back for the second round.

Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' (near lane) vs Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity 
Plumbing' (far lane) - NFC --- Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor' (near lane) vs Justin Taylor - 'Evil, Wicked, 
Mean & Nasty' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Things settled down somewhat in the next pairing, as both drivers appeared to take a short nap on the starting line. Leaving first with a .228 (!) light was Matt Melendez (near lane), while Dan Horan Jr. in the far lane was even sleepier with a .261 reaction. Despite the tardy leave, Horan easily disposed of the Cacklin' Critter with a strong 5.677 - 261.12 (Top Speed of the meet), while Melendez trailed with a valiant 5.856 - 227.42 time. Melendez actually led the race until nearly the 1000' mark before he was forced to shut off as the car headed for the centerline.

(RIGHT) The next race was over almost immediately, as Justin Taylor (far lane) struck the tires on the launch, and clicked it off to an 18-second clocking. In the near lane, "Hollywood" Kris Krabill sped away to an almost uncontested 5.811 - 237.55 victory. The win didn't come without a price as it appeared an entire set of pistons vaporized as he crossed the finish line.

Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC --- Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' - NFC

(LEFT) In the final match of the first round, Michael Peck Jr. burned out but had the safety system activate during it, tossing the chute out. That left him dead in the water and shut off as his opponent was able to take an automatic win.

(RIGHT) That opponent, Cory Lee, made the most of Peck's predicament, cranking out a very good 5.687 - 262.28 (new Top Speed of the meet), to advance to a second round meeting with low qualifier Drew Austin.

Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC

Here's the aftermath of Peck's chute tossing burnout as the car sat motionless at the 300' mark.


Nostalgia Top Fuel - Round One Eliminations

Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' (near lane) vs 
Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild' (far lane) - NTF --- Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Racing' (near lane) vs Tyler Hester - 
'Overtime Special' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT) Top Fuel got started with the #1 and #8 qualifiers meeting. It wasn't exactly a tree-cutting mission at the starting line as in the near lane, Bret Williamson's .222 light was definitely on the slow side, but Brendan Murry (far lane) was just plain sleeping with a .469 reaction time. Going down track, Murry was well behind at the 300' mark, then appeared to pop the blower just after that point, slowing to an 8.194 - 91.08 clocking. Meanwhile, Williamson ran away to an easy 6.047 - 210.37 win.

(RIGHT) Another slow start spelled defeat for Pete Wittenberg (near lane) as his tardy .234 reaction paved the way for Tyler Hester's (far lane) much quicker .061 reaction to take the win. Wittenberg lost despite a better 5.869 - 243.11 clocking, while Hester stopped the timers first with a 5.918 at only 204.39, as he was enveloped in a cloud of oil and smoke at the 1000' mark and coasted to the win by two car lengths.

Jim Murphy - 'WWII' (near lane) vs Bryan Hall - 'The Nomad' 
(far lane) - NTF --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' (near lane) vs Adam 
Sorokon - 'Champion Speed Shop Special' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT) Next up were veteran Jim Murphy (near lane), who left second and finished first by overcoming a six hundredths deficit in reaction times over Tyler Hester in the far lane. Hester's mount was sashaying all over his lane in the early going, before getting it straightened out at half track and charging to a 6.622 - 206.45 losing time. Murphy also was off the pedal early, but his 5.970 - 215.44 was still enough to turn on the winlight.

(RIGHT) The round closed with the closest matched pair of qualifying, #4 Tyler Hilton (near lane) against #5 Adam Sorokin in the far lane. Sorokin gave away too much on the starting line, leaving nearly a full tenth behind Hilton and it cost him as his 6.456 - 166.33 was nowhere near catching Hilton's winning 6.071 - 185.64 time. Both cars had problems on the top end, with Hilton losing several pistons before the finish line and Soroking giving up the chase with lots of smoke out of the engine at the 1000' mark.

AA/Fuel Altered - Round One Eliminations

Johnny West - 'Plan A' (near lane) vs Dan Hix - 
'Heatseeker' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' (near lane) vs James Generalao Jr. 
- 'Impatience' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) Fuel Altereds eliminations got started with a very close race, as Johnny West (near lane) almost hit the 6.00-index, with a great 6.076 - 224.85 pass, but it fell short of the winning time of Dan Hix in the far lane, who ran right on the index - to the thousandth - with a perfect 6.000 - 210.90 for the win. Making the margin a bit larger at the finish line was the .033 reaction time advantage for Hix. But running right on the index at over 200-mph is risky business.

(RIGHT) The second pair didn't see either racer come close to breaking out, bu Brian Hope overcame a small (.017) reaction deficit to ring up a 6.237 - 232.63 on the scoreboards. That was enough to cover the 6.470 - 202.09 of Las Vegan James Generalao Jr. in the far lane.

Pete Peterson - 'The Wanderer' (near lane) vs 
Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' (near lane) vs 
Nick Van Horn - 'Panic!' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) Another very close race ensued, with both drivers challenging the index, as Mark Whynaught (far lane) came closest at 6.010 - 207.85 and turned on the winlight. In the near lane, Pete Peterson left a tad late (.137 to .094 reaction), but thundered across the finish line, with a 6.029 - 248.93 as he blew past Whynaught about 60 feet past the stripe, in a great, but losing, effort.

(RIGHT) Closing the round was young Dylan Winefsky (near lane) who ran a good and safe 6.181, coupled with a big top end of 241.50 to take the win over the breaking out effort of Nick Van Horn (far lane), who smashed the index with a 5.965 - 244.07 pass. Why Van Horn kept the pedal down all the way to the 1320' mark is a bit of a mystery, as he had a serious advantage off the line (.117 to .273 r.t.'s) and was far ahead of Winefsky at the finish line. Nonetheless, it was Winefsky advancing and the "Panic!" team going home.

Nitro Pro Comp - Round One Eliminations

Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor' - NPC --- Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - NPC

(LEFT) After two qualifying sessions, attrition due to engine damage eliminated two of the six cars, leaving just four racers for the first round of eliminations. Then, due to more breakage, it turned into a single for Keith Wilson in the "Witch Doctor" Fuel Altered, as scheduled opponent Eily Stafford was a no-show. He took an easy cruise into the final round with a 9.158 - 81.24 pass.

(RIGHT) Joining Wilson in that round was New Mexico's Lyle Greenberg in his beautiful Corvette bodied "Cone Hunter" Funny Car, as he was also the beneficiary of a single when Billy McDevitt couldn't make the call. Greenberg tested the 5.90-index with a 6.062 - 194.80 on his bye run.

Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' (near lane) vs 
Steve Faller -

One of many oddball pairings in the 7.0 PRO class featured Tony Trimp in his Rough 'n Ready '65 Mustang flopper (near lane) facing Steve "Flat Top" Faller in his '32 Ford Bantam roadster in the far lane, as they met in the second round of eliminations. Unfortunately we don't have any results from that round - yet - but they both ran 7.00 on the 7.00 index in the first round, so it must have been close.

Nitro Mike Kunz - PT Cruiser - wheelstander --- General Jerry Lee - Ford Stakebed truck' - wheelstander

Wheelstander time, with Canada's "Nitro" Mike Kunz in his PT Cruiser (left), and the iconic General Jerry Lee in his Ford C-Cab Truck (right), powered by an early model Chrysler Hemi no less, both standing them up for the crowd.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round Two Eliminations

Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' (near lane) vs Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor' (near lane) vs Billy Morris - 
'Problem Child' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) It was a close to half track as the second round opened, but Drew Austin (far lane) headed for the wall and was forced to shut off to a 6.069 - 189.47, allowing Cory Lee to take the upset win with a very good - and frankly, difficult to beat, 5.723 - 257.87 clocking. Despite being low qualifer, at 5.592, Austin's weekend came to a rather premature end.

(RIGHT) Next up were Kris Krabill (near lane) against Billy Morris (far lane). It was a very close race until a puff of smoke came out of the "Problem Child" just before the 1000' mark, causing Morris to slow to a 5.908 - 192.36 time, while Krabill sped into the semifinal with a solid 5.788 - 240.89 timeslip.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (near lane) vs Dan Horan Jr. 
- 'Infinity Plumbing' (far lane) - NFC

The third pair of the round turned into a single for Geoff Monise as scheduled opponent Rian Konno was unable to come back after his first round fire. Monise simply took the green light and idled down the track to a 16-second winning pass. Closing out the round were Bobby Cottrell (near lane) against the big horsepower car of Dan Horan Jr. (far lane) and it was a good clean race all the way down with no piston smoke for a change. However, it wasn't all that close as Cottrell held the lead from the 60' lights to the finish line, stopping the clocks with a 5.637 - 245.45 to easily handle Horan's trailing 5.759 - 258.86 effort.

Nostalgia Top Fuel - Round Two Eliminations

Jim Murphy - 'WWII' (near lane) vs Tyler Hester 
(far lane) - NTF --- Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' (near lane) vs 
Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT) The only driver to advance from the bottom half of the field, Tyler Hester (far lane) took on Jim Murphy (near lane) in the first semifinal pairing. After a big tail wag coming off the starting line, Murphy straightened out the car and blasted out a very strong 5.736 - 260.81 to light up the scoreboards The mph was Top Speed of the meet. The drivers left together, but Hester (far lane) got off the pedal early with lots of smoke out of the blow-by tank as he crossed the line at 5.939 - 205.10 to finish his weekend.

(RIGHT) In the other pairing, Bret Williamson (near lane) left first by a bunch (seems to be a common theme in these reports), taking an instant .151 to .263 lead in reaction times, then ran away to a very good 5.837 - 255.24 winning time. Winning the entertainment battle was Tyler Hilton (far lane), who trailed early, then exploded the blower at the 600' mark, with a small fire. That activated the safety systems, deploying the chutes and slowing him to a 6.771 - 127.35 in the loss as he came to a stop over near the guardwall in the shutdown area.

AA/Fuel Altered - Round Two Eliminations

Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (near lane) vs 
Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' (near lane) vs Dan Hix - 
'Heatseeker' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) This is what happens when you match up a "Nitro Mamba" (near lane), driven by Mark Whynaught against a "Nitro Moose" (far lane), wheeled by second generation fuel altered pilot Dylan Winefsky. Unfortunately in this case, the "Moose" was a little sleepy off the line, giving the "Mamba" an instant of slightly more than a tenth of a second. Winefsky kept it relatively close on paper though, running 6.274 - 234.17 as Whynaught got off the loud pedal early (to avoid breaking out), and stopped the timers with a winning 6.071 - 203.58 time.

(RIGHT) It looks like an even leave in this picture, but Brian Hope (near lane) actually red-lighted (-.184 foul) and shut off to a 19-second cruise down the quarter- mile. In the far lane, Dan Hix left the line after the green flashed and took an easy 7.547 - 117.24 drive into the final round.

Unfortunately, due to exhaustion after four days pounding the pavement at Famoso Dragstrip, our photographer had to leave for home. Through the combination of Jakes Simmons video work, and Bobby Bennett's diligence, we have pieced together the final rounds of nitro competition. Many thanks to the Competition Plus website for their help.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round Three Eliminations

Going into the semifinals, all four racers were from the top half of the field, with #3, #5, #7 & #8 advancing to the third round. Opening proceedings was Geoff Monise, who was having the best day of his racing career, and it continued as he left first by a few hundredths on opponent Cory Lee, then ran away to a very convincing 5.627 - 251.16 victory over Lee's shutoff 6.593 - 153.21 effort. Lee got off the throttle when the car started dancing near half track, while Monise's pass was the quickest of eliminations. The good news stopped at the finish line though, as the large amount of death smoke coming out from underneath the "Quarter Pounder" indicated some serious pit work was going to be required going into the final round.

The other semifinal featured four-time defending Heritage Series Funny Car champion, Bobby Cottrell in the dominating Austin & O'Brien - "Bardhal Special" Camaro, pitted against the surprising Kris Krabill in the "Bartone & Lebor" entry. Cottrell showed his prowess on the lights, leaving on Krabill by five hundredths, then stretching his lead all the way to the finish line before stopping the clocks at 5.648 - 238.43 to handle Krabill's early shutoff 6.109 - 184.55 pass. However, the winning e.t. for Cottrell wasn't quick enough to earn lane choice for the final against Monise. And the cloud of piston smoke as he cleared the traps meant more work for the crew before the final.

Nitro Pro Comp - Final Round Eliminations

After two so-so qualifying sessions, and a pair of bye runs in the first round, the Nitro Pro Comp show whittled down to the last two racers standing. Both cars ran well, but Keith Wilson's too-quick 5.836 - 223.58 cost him the win as first-time March Meet contestant Lyle Greenberg was safe with a very good 6.006 - 206.10 pass for the event win. Despite being left on slightly, Greenberg kept his cool and didn't try too hard to catch the fleeing Fuel Altered and risk a breakout of his own.

AA/Fuel Altered - Final Round Eliminations

After some great performances in qualifying and the first two round of eliminations, the final round was a bit of an anticlimax in results, but more than made up for it in entertainment value. Both racers, Mark Whynaught in the "Nitro Mamba" and Dan Hix in the "Heatseeker" left the starting line close together, with Hix having a small advantage that soon evaporated in tire smoke. Just when Hix thought he was doomed, the engine in Whyanught's car went sour and opportunity knocked. Seizing it with his foot to the floor, Hix got back on the throttle and took the lead at half track, blasting across the finish line at 7.010 - 208.78 as Whynaught's silent mount limped across at 8.877 - 96.46 for the loss. A wild finish to another classic Fuel Altered race.

Nostalgia Top Fuel - Final Round Eliminations

In the final race of the day for Top Fuel, the #1 qualifier Bret Williamson took on #3 Jim Murphy. It was a great side-by-side battle from start to finish, as Murphy left first by just six thousandths, but Williamson crossed the stripe first for a true win margin of just 34 thousandths, less than a car length, in a race befitting the final round of the March Meet. The numbers read 5.731 - 256.06 for Williamson, and an oh-so-close 5.771 - 256.75 for Murphy. In the shutdown area, Murphy couldn't get his car stopped before running out of room and sliding to a halt in the sand trap. No damage to the car, other than a handful of burnt pistons in the lights. All in all, it was a great finish to a tough weekend for both racers and their crews.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Final Round Eliminations

As you might expect from our semifinal report, there was damage to both finalists, and unfortunately, especially for the fans, the Van Gundy, Clark & Monise team couldn't make the call. Taking the event win by simply staging was Bobby Cottrell as he made it official with a 29-second idle down the strip. Not the way most racers want to win, but it was a major event victory nonetheless.


The latest update as of March 6, 2022


Best laid plans.... etc.

This was supposed to be a big weekend of drag racing coverage for Northern Thunder. With two NHRA Lucas Oil Series regional events happening and the Good Vibrations March Meet underway, we sat here waiting to be inundated with photos and reports from Bakersfield. After a quick burst of test 'n tune shots from Wednesday, that was it. Since then: nothing. Two photographers on scene, but no photos in the inbox. The weather down at Famoso turned sour late Thursday, and most of yesterday was lost to rain, but we're still waiting for the next installment to arrive. Maybe tonight. Maybe not. Fingers crossed though.

64th annual Good Vibrations March Meet

NHRA Lucas Drag Racing Series Eastern Regional - Gainesville Raceway

Dubbed as the "Baby Gators" this first Eastern regional event of the season serves as a great preview of next week's Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. The pits were full of Top Alcohol Dragsters, with 16 cars in attendance, and most of them entered in the Gatornationals. On the Funny Car side, there were just six cars this weekend, and only entered eight for the national event, while there are already (entry deadline is Monday afternoon) 18 dragsters on the pre-entry list.

Qualifying got underway on Friday afternoon, but even with good atmospheric conditions and a well-prepped track, quite a few cars - dragsters and funny cars - had difficulting getting very far before tire shake or smoke interrupted their plans. While most of the pundits were expected some 5-teen dragster passes, low e.t. of the session was a very good 5.200 - 273.61 from the Gene Gallant tuned car of Karen Stalba. Following her was Winternationals winner (in only his second race in Top Alcohol) Mike Coughlin with a 5.276, and from there on it trailed off to Mick "The Real Deal" Steele on the bubble with a 5.658 - 265.85 effort.

The Funny Car fared even worse, with just five (of the six entered) cars making a pass, and only one - Kris Hool running quicker than 9-seconds. His low e.t. pass of 5.609 - 264.13 was good, but a couple of real hitters in the field, it shouldn't have held up as the #1 pass of the session. Late in the afternoon, all six cars appeared and two more broke into the 5-second zone, with Matt Gill making a very quick and fast 5.455 - 271.73 run to take the #1 spot away from Hool. We don't have all the TA/FC stats on hand, but his career best in national events was a 5.471 at Maple Grove last September.

The second session for the dragsters saw the field tighten up considerably, but low e.t. stayed with Stalba's 5.200 from earlier in the day. At the end of the round, there were four cars in the 5.20's, five in the 5.30's, and two more in the 5.40's. The bubble sitter, Canada's Jeff Veale was in at 5.391 - 267.37 and in what may have been a first, three of the eight qualifiers were from north of the border. Quebec's Dan Mercier sat #7 with a 5.378 - 270.43, while Jeff Chatterson (Brantford, ON) was one notch above at #6 with a 5.361 - 272.94 effort.

With the sun set and the lights on, the track was cooling quickly and the corrected altitude dropped under 1000' as the final qualifying session began. A few cars stumbled with the improved air and cool track, but a few racers, Jeff Veale especially, picked up the performance as he cranked out a 5.281 - 279.32 to set top speed and nearly move into the top half of the field. Nobody managed to break into the 5.10's, but Will Smith came closest, in the Robin Samsel dragster, with a 5.202 - 275.56 to snag the #2 spot, just behind leader Karen Stalba. The bump spot settled on Jeff Chatterson, with his earlier 5.361 holding down the final spot in the field. Showing the tightness of the final qualifying sheet, the first two alternates were in the 5.30's, the next two in the 5.40's, then two each in the 5.50's and 5.60's, with the slowest e.t. being a decent 5.693 pass.

In the first round of eliminations, there were some good runs and not-so-good. The low qualifier, Karen Stalba ignited the tires on the launch, roasting them to a 15.992, while the #8 qualifier, Jeff Chatterson turned his best e.t. of the weekend at 5.312 - 274.95 to advance to the semifinals. The closest race of the round featured Will Smith who cranked out a career best, and low e.t. of the meet, 5.197 - 278.58 to edge out Matt Sackman's very good 5.259 - 267.00 effort. Sackman, who's usual job is working on Antron Brown's clutch, was driving the #2 car of the Randy Meyer team. Also advancing to the semis was the #1 Meyer car, driven by Julie Nataas and Mike Couughlin in the McPhillips Racing entry.

All the Funny Car winners in their first round ran in the 5.50's, with Aryan Rochon leading the way at 5.500 - 257.24. Low qualifier Matt Gill had the closest race of the round, with his 5.544 - 260.51 taking out Canadian Ryan Stack by a couple of car lengths to earn the bye into the final. In that round, Rochon dispatched Ulf Leanders, and Gill staged the car before shutting off and saving everything for the final.

The dragster semifinal saw both winners running in the 5.20's, with Will Smith taking lane choice with his 5.227, while Julie Nataas was a little slower at 5.266. In the final, Smith kept up the pace with a very good 5.232 - 276.63 covering Nataas's close 5.284 - 268.38 as he earned his second regional of his career. The funny final wasn't nearly as close as Rochon lost traction early and slowed to a 7.239, while Matt Gill kept the pedal down all the way to a 5.554 - 267.88 for his third regional win at Gainesville Raceway.

Western Regional - Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park

To be written later.


The latest update as of March 3, 2022


Even though the dates on all the schedules indicate that the Good Vibrations March Meet starts today, it actually got underway with a test 'n tune session for the Group 2 cars yesterday, and we've got a handful of photos of those runs. It's just the start of what will be a veritable plethora of photography over the next week. Stay tuned for updates as they come in. Today's first installment is courtesy of our Colorado correspondent, Dale B. Fackler, who made the trek to Bakersfield for the second time and is shooting from the grandstands on the motorhome and camping side of the track.

J/F - 7911 - License - 'Re-Entry' --- 33 - front-engine blown 392 dragster

Our first pair are both unidentified at this point. On the left it's a Jr. Fuel car with the driver making a license pass, while on the right it's a very familiar looking old-school blown 392 (or 354) Hemi in a shorty body front-engine dragster.

NE1 - 786P - Sabrina Pecora - '37 Fiat Topolino --- NE1 - 7586 - Ken Upton (near lane) vs NE1 - 7815 - Chad Camping (far lane)

These cars are easier to identify thankfully. On the left it's Sabrina Pecora in her '37 Fiat Topolino, running in Nostalgia Eliminator 1 (NE-1), and on the right it's Ken Upton in the near lane, and Chad Camping in the far lane. Both cars are running in NE-1, a class with a 7.60 index.

NE-1 764C - Shannan Cottrell --- NE-1 7332 - Bill Workman - '32 Ford Victoria

(LEFT) More NE-1 cars here, with Shannan Cottrell (possibly related to NFC pilot Bobby Cottrell?) in the injected Small-Block Chevy dragster.

(RIGHT) Showing more of the diversity in the NE-1 class, Bill Workman launches in his beautiful blown early Hemi-powered '32 Ford Victoria.

NE-1 7897 - Garret Crisp - '23-T --- 7.0 PRO - U750 - Eily Stafford

(LEFT) From nearby Visalia, Garret Crisp, running in NE-1, stages his injected 568cid Big-Block Chevy '23-T roadster.

(RIGHT) The "Killer Crower" car of El Cajon, CA's Eily Stafford, is shown here preparing to launch her blown BBC '01 Tuttle-built dragster.

7.0 PRO 772 - Brad Peters --- 7.0 PRO 772 - Brad Peters (near lane) vs 7.0 PRO 1947 - Ken Fullerton - 
'23-T Ford

(LEFT)It's 7.0 PRO's Brad Peters burning out in his long wheelbase '19 Haase-built dragster, sporting a supercharged late-model Hemi engine. It looks very much like an A/Fuel Dragster (a class that allows blown alcohol or injected nitro) in disguise.

(RIGHT) In the near lane, it's Brad Peters and on the far side it's Cedar City, UT's Ken Fullerton in his 23-T Ford powered by a blown early-model Hemi.

7.0 PRO 762N - Dean Nilson (near lane) vs 7.0 PRO - 7560 - Vince Generalao Jr. 
'32 Bantam (far lane) --- NE-1 642C

(LEFT) A pair of 7.0 PRO cars with Dean Nilson in his blown late-model Hemi (lots of them running in this class!) '18 Comstock-built dragster paired up with Las Vegas' Vince Generalao Jr. in his '32 Bantam roadster running a blown big-block Chevy.

(RIGHT) A good looking blown big-block Chevy-powered dragster with a clearly identified number but it's "not on file" at this point.

7.0 PRO 7399 - Steve Faller - 'Bad Moon' -'32 Bantam (near lane) vs 
7.0 PRO 641 - Ralph Fox - 'Fox & Goosela'  (far lane) --- 7.0 PRO 7399 - Steve Faller - '32 Bantam

(LEFT) A pair of cars that show the diversity in the 7.0 PRO class, with Steve Faller in his "Bad Moon" '32 Bantam roadster in the near lane, paired up with Ralph Fox in the "Fox & Goosela" 2016 Dave Tuttle-built supercharged Big-Block Chevy dragster.

(RIGHT) Here's a closer look at Faller launching with the wheels coming way up in the Bad Moon (Rising) altered.

7.0 PRO 121 - Dave Rosenberg --- 7.0 PRO 121 - Dave Rosenberg

Burning out and launching in his 7.0 PRO dragster, it's Long Beach, CA's Dave Rosenberg in his '94 DRE-built dragster.

7.0 PRO 797 - Mike Cross --- 7.0 PRO 797 - Mike Cross

It's Mike Cross from Culver City, CA in his blown small-block Chevy "Flashback" dragster.

D/Gas J743 - Junior Stanley (near lane) vs C/Gas 1015 - Bryson Kleeman 
(far lane)

We finish this installment with a couple of Group 2 cars, Junior Stanley in the near lane in his D/Gas Ford and in the far lane, Bryson Kleeman in his C/Gas '69 Camaro.

Much, MUCH more to come throughout the weekend. Stay tuned!


The latest update as of March 2, 2022


Mike Boyd - 'Winged Express' (left) vs Randy Bradford - 'Bradford's Fiat' (right)

We have just received the very sad news of the passing of a true showman in AA/Fuel Altered racing, "Iron" Mike Boyd who followed in the footsteps of "Wild" Willie Borsch at the wheel of the famed (and sometimes infamous) "Winged Express". After the passing of both Borsch (in 1991) and his long-time partner Al "Mousie" Marcellus in 2020, now the last living connection to that car is gone. May he truly R.I.P. and we extend our sincere condolencees to all his family and friends.

We've got many more photos of the sequence that led up to this picture and other wild and crazy runs that Iron Mike made over the years. We'll put them together in a feature as soon as we can.


The latest update as of February 27, 2022


NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

NHRA Arizona Nationals SUNDAY Report

We received quite a bonus last night when a bundle of photos, taken from the grandstand, arrived in our email inbox. Our super intrepid photographer, Big Bob Snyder bounced back from a severe case of vertigo on Friday night to make it out to Wild Horse Motorsports Park for the second and third qualifying sessions at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. We were both disappointed that he couldn't be at the starting line, but NHRA has decided that we didn't make the cut for this event as they also did at the recent Winternationals.

PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #2

Alan Prusiensky - PS --- Cristian Cuadra - PS

(LEFT) Still fighting the good fight with a 2012 Dodge Dart, New Jersey's Alan Prusiensky moved up the qualifying ladder from #14 to #13 with a good 6.596 - 208.97 pass. Note that the car is lacking the eCarMover.com signage. Hmm...

(RIGHT) One of the trio of Caudra's competing this weekend, the Corral Boots sponsored Mustang of Cristian Cuadra made a big jump up the ladder with a great 6.559 - 209.59 to move into the top half of the field in the #6 position.

Fernando Caudra Jr. (near lane) vs Chris 
McGaha (far lane) - PS --- Mason McGaha - PS

(LEFT) Both drivers in this pairing, Fernando Caudra Jr. (near lane), and Chris McGaha (far lane) stepped up, with Caudra breaking into the 6.50's, clocking a 6.594 - 207.56 to take a tentative hold on the #14 spot in the field. With all the cars remaining in the lanes already qualified above him, his position was "safe" going into the final qualifying session. McGaha also improved, making the huge leap from #12 to #1 with a great 6.539 - 209.46. However, his hold on that exalted position was nowhere near safe with ten very quick cars waiting to run.

(RIGHT) The other half of the "Harlow Sammons Racing" team, young Mason McGaha made a small improvement from Friday's 6.574 pass, with a 6.560 - 209.30 coming up on the scoreboards. That small gain paid a good dividend as it moved him up four spots to the #8 position.

Camrie Caruso (near lane) vs Kyle Koretsky 
(far lane) - PS --- Rodger Brogdon (near lane) vs Deric Kramer 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) Before I write about the racers, this photo grabbed my attention with a full grandstand in the background. It seems like a long time since we've seen that sort of attendance at a drag race. In the near lane, Camrie Caruso, making only her 7th competition pass in Pro Stock, vaulted into the top half of the field with a career best 6.547 - 209.59 pass that put her in the #6 spot. In the far lane, Kyle "Kid Kaos" Koretsky ran just a bit better and climbed all the way to the top of the ladder with a 6.539 - 210.01 clocking.

(RIGHT) Visibly pulling away in the far lane, Deric Kramer pushed the BIO Fuel-backed car to a new low qualifying e.t. of 6.536 - 209.20 that moved him up to the top from the #6 rung on the ladder. Trailing at the finish line, was Rodger Brogdon (near lane), who's planning to run the entire schedule for the first time since 2015, and his 6.575 - 209.10 left him in the #12 spot.

Bo Butner (near lane) vs Greg Anderson 
(far lane) - PS --- Aaron Stanfield (near lane) vs Erica Enders 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) Slightly ahead at this point, returning veteran competitor, Bob Butner in his new Johnson's Horsepower Garage Camaro (near lane), ran just a little quicker than his Friday effort, stopping the clocks at 6.559 - 208.52 to move up one spot in the order, from #10 to #9. In the far lane, Greg Anderson slowed from Friday's 6.51 to a 6.562 - 209.15 that was only good enough for #6 on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Saving the best for last, as so often happens, Erica Enders (far lane) got all she wanted on this run with a new low e.t. of qualifying at 6.530 - 210.34 to take the top spot away from Deric Kramer. In the near lane, Aaron Stanfield had to give up the run early and coast to a 6.721 - 174.39 time that left him in the #5 position going into the final session.

TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #2

Rob Passey - TF --- Jim Maroney (near lane) vs Clay Millican 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT)The first car out of the lanes was longtime competitor Rob Passey from Salt Lake City, Utah. He's been trying hard, but unsuccessfully, for the past 20-something years to get somewhere with his dragster, and this year, with the invaluable help of veteran crew chief Johnny West, seems to have finally turned the performance corner. Still working with an all-volunteer crew, Passey cranked out a safe and clean career best pass of 4.123 - 270.00 to open the session. That - amazingly - left him in the #4 position on the ladder, but with 16 very capable cars still waiting to run.

(RIGHT) It didn't take long for the other cars to start moving Passey down the charts, as the first pair out of the lanes, Jim Maroney, in the near lane, and Clay Millican in the far lane, lit up the scoreboards with two good passes. Maroney shut off a little early, but still ran into the 3's, with a 3.930 - 294.56 pass, while Millican ran all the way through to a 3.748 - 322.88 clocking.

Steve Torrence (near lane) vs Brittany Force 
(far lane) - TF --- Doug Foley (near lane) vs Justin Ashley 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) And the hits kept coming as last year's top two performers, Steve Torrence (near lane) cranked out a solid 3.715 - 3222.73, while his closest pursuer in the championship chase, Brittany Force one-upped him with a 3.694 - 321.96, good enough for a temporary hold on the #3 spot in the field.

(RIGHT) The next pair rang up a pair of 3.70 runs, as Doug Foley in the near lane, pushed his new car to a 3.766 - 313.07, while on the far side, the Winternationals winner, Justin Ashley slotted into the #5 position on the qualifying sheet with a 3.713 - 329.59 pass.

Antron Brown (near lane) vs Mike Salinas 
(far lane) - TF --- Austin Prock (near lane) vs Shawn Langdon 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) As the session continued, 3.70 passes were coming up in bunches, with Antron Brown (near lane) clocking a 3.735 - 328.30 alongside Mike Salinas (far lane) who pushed a little harder to a 3.714 - 330.39, that was now only good enough for the #6 position. Rob Passey's session opening pass was #4 for a few minutes, but he was now all the way down to #14 on the list.

(RIGHT) After ten consecutive 3.70 - or better - passes, the performance string was broken as Austin Prock (near lane) lost traction at half track and coasted to a 4.915 - 145.52. No such bad luck befell Shawn Langdon in the far lane, as he motored on to a 3.771 - 326.00 pass that was only good enough for #13 in the field.

Leah Pruett (near lane) vs Todd Paton 
(far lane) - TF --- Tripp Tatum III (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) Running near the end of the round for possibly the first time ever, Canada's Todd Paton (far lane), in the Terry Haddock Racing "rent-a-dragster" started falling back early as he shut off to a decent 4.159 - 263.67 that was an improvment over Friday's 4.279 effort, but still left him in the bump spot going into the final qualifying session. In the near lane, Leah Pruett ran very well, but no better than her Friday 3.703, as a 3.725 - 328.14 rang up on the scoreboards. It left her in the #4 position.

(RIGHT) The final pair of the round featured the two quickest cars from Friday, and while they didn't improve their times, both put down solid backup runs. Stopping the timers first was Tripp Tatum (near lane) with the second quickest e.t. of the round at 3.969 - 329.18 as he held the #2 spot in the order. In the far lane, Doug Kalitta was just a fraction slower at 3.700 - 330.39, but ended the session in the top spot.

FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #2

Cruz Pedregon (near lane) vs Jeff Diehl 
(far lane) - FC --- J.R. Todd (near lane) vs Bob Tasca III 
(far lane) - FC

(LEFT) Knocking six seconds off his dismal 9.95 pass of Friday night, Cruz Pedregon (near lane) powered into the top half of the field with a strong 3.859 - 329.10 pass, while in the far lane, Jeff Diehl trailed substantially, but still stopped the timers with a good 4.075 - 279.85 to jump onto the #8 rung on the ladder. Most likely temporarily, as the rest of the field waited to run. Diehl had to make do with his backup body as his ill-fated Friday pass resulted in a badly damaged front end on his primary body.

(RIGHT) The next pair featured side-by-side 3.90 runs, as J.R. Todd (near lane) showed off his new Toyota Supra body to the tune of a 3.908 - 325.69 set of numbers, while in the far lane,Bob Tasca III ran just a little quicker and faster at 3.902 - 329.02 in his Mustang-bodied entry. To show how quickly the field was tightening up, Tasca was #6 and Todd #7 in the field.

Paul Lee (near lane) vs Alexis DeJoria 
(far lane) - FC --- Jim Campbell - FC

(LEFT) Finally getting past half track with the throttle open, Paul Lee, in the near lane, started drifting towards the centerline and shut off to a 4.294 - 215.31 time. In the far lane, Alexis DeJoria jumped into the top half of the field with a very good 3.911 - 323.12 pass.

(RIGHT) Getting to run by himself when Terry Haddock elected to skip the session, Jim Campbell ran strong for 600' before clicking it to a 4.355 - 210.21, leaving him in the #11 spot by virtue of his 4.038 clocking on Friday.

Jeff Arend (near lane) vs Chad Green 
(far lane) - FC --- Tim Wilkerson (near lane) vs Matt Hagan 
(far lane) - FC

(LEFT) Already off the throttle and coasting at this point, Jeff Arend (near lane) started smoking the tires early and shut off to a 5.64, while Chad Green (far lane) made a slight improvement over Friday's 3.982, with a 3.976 - 293.98 time. Despite two good back-to-back 3-second runs, that left the Bond Coat driver in the #10 position.

(RIGHT) Green's tuner, Tim Wilkerson (near lane) didn't quite back up his #3 qualifying 3.85 pass in the first session, but a solid 3.925 - 321.58 showed that he was ready for race day with a solid tuneup. Stopping the clocks first in this pairing, Matt Hagan put down a great 3.861 - 331.36 to stay in the #4 position. His Friday effort of 3.859 showed that the new Power Brokers team were ready to contender on Sunday.

The round closed with an intramural battle between the Team Force cars, with Robert Hight laying down another great run at 3.848 - 330.47 to solidify his spot at the top of the field, while his boss, John Force smoked the tires early and shut off to an 8-second pass, leaving his Friday effort of 3.851 in the #2 spot on the ladder.

Don Knoblouch - TD ---

(LEFT) When he's not driving his Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car (the "Atomic Punk"), this is what Washington state's Don Knoblouch does for fun. He's at the wheel of his Top Dragster, enroute to a second round exit due to a redlight (-.014 light). It wasted an almost-on-the-dial-in 6.415 - 212.49 pass on his 6.41 dial.

(RIGHT) Getting the wheels waaaay up, this Big Tire Shootout driver hangs 'em high during an exhibition run.

PRO STOCK - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

Despite a rather weak bump spot of 7.066 going into the final qualifier, the first 15 cars on the ladder were tightly bunched between Erica Enders' low e.t. of 6.530 and #15 Alan Prusiensky's 6.596 pass. The three cars on the outside were all well off the pace, but with good air and track conditions for the racers, the fight to get into the field was guaranteed to be intense.

Fernando Cuadra - PS --- Alan Prusiensky - PS

(LEFT) First up was the patron of the Cuadra team, Fernando Caudra and he got the Mustang untracked to the tune of a 6.651 - 207.72 to grab the #16 spot. But his chances of staying in the show for Sunday's eliminations were slim.

(RIGHT) That prediction didn't take long to come to pass, as John Cerbone (not shown) came out in the first pairing of the session and put down a 6.591 - 209.46 to erase Caudra from the qualifying list. Running beside Cerbone was Alan Prusiensky who improved to a 6.579 - 208.88 to move up two spots to the #13 position.

Steve Graham - PS --- Troy Coughlin Jr. (near lane) vs Mason McGaha 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) Next up was California's Steve Graham and he laid down his career quickest and fastest pass of 6.594 - 210.73 to climb into the field in the #15 spot, bumping out Fernando Caudra Jr. on speed, as they were tied on e.t. And the field got tighter again, with 14 cars remaining to run, including three currently outside the show.

(RIGHT) One of those "outsiders", Troy Coughlin Jr. (near lane) got his chance to get back in next, and he made the most of it, rocketing up the charts all the way to the #2 spot with a great 6.535 - 210.50 to move the bump spot down to Steve Graham's 6.594 and pushed Fernando Jr. to the #17 spot. In the other lane, Mason McGaha improved by a fraction, from 6.560 to 6.557 - 208.46, to move up one spot from #11 to #10.

Fernando Caudra Jr. (near lane) vs Cristian Cuadra 
(far lane) - PS --- Greg Anderson - PS

(LEFT) The next pair was an all-Cuadra affair, with Cristian in the far lane, already safely in the field at #11, improving by four thousandths of a second to a 6.555 - 209.82 and moving up two spots to #9. And the field got tighter and tighter. In the near lane, his brother Fernando Jr., got back into the field by the slimmest of margins with a 6.592 - 208.49 to grab the #16 spot with just one more driver that could bump him waiting to run. In the process, Steve Graham was relegated to first alternate despite his career best numbers.

(RIGHT) After a championship season in 2021, Greg Anderson is finding the going a little tougher this year. He made it to the semifinals at the Winternationals after qualifying fourth, but here he was sitting down in the #7 position, and his good, but not good enough, 6.549 - 209.72 failed to improve on his Friday clocking of 6.541 to leave him in seventh going into eliminations. Not shown in this photo was Matt Hartford who got back into the field in the #13 spot (from #18) with his best of the weekend at 6.570 - 208.84 to bump out Fernando Caudra Jr. and seal the bubble at John Cerbone's 6.591 e.t.

Rodger Brogdon (near lane) vs Chris McGaha 
(far lane) - PS --- Bo Butner (near lane) vs Kyle Koretsky 
(far lane) - PS

(LEFT) With all the bumping drama completed, all that remained was some possible position shuffles and changes in first round matchups. Rodger Brogdon (near lane) matched his previous best - to the thousandth - as a 6.571 - 209.69 left him in #14. In the far lane, Chris McGaha slowed slightly, as his 6.549 - 209.14 wasn't enough to move up from the #5 spot.

(RIGHT) The next pair saw a big change, as Kyle Koretsky in the far lane, pulled away from Bo Butner (near lane), to the tune of a new low e.t. of the meet at 6.520 - 210.21 to snatch the top spot on the ladder away from Erica Enders. Butner slowed from his previous bests to a 6.574 - 208.59, leaving him in the #12 spot.

Camrie Caruso -PS

In the second to last pair of the round, rookie Camrie Caruso ran into heavy tire shake early and coasted to a 10-second clocking as she remained in the #8 spot with her earlier best of 6.547 - 209.59 time.

Qualifying for Pro Stock closed with the two quickest cars (coming into the session) matched up, and both improved but stayed in the #2 and #3 spots as Koretsky held onto the top qualifying position. Aaron Stanfield came closest with a 6.521 - 210.11 falling just one thousandth short of the top, as he moved up four spots from #6. Running alongside him was Erica Enders who ended qualifying in #3, falling two spots despite her best of the weekend 6.526 - 210.24 effort.

TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

Going into the final round of qualifying, the burning question that needed to be answered was if Austin Prock could get down the track quicker than 4.159 seconds. If not, then he would be the only non-qualifier in the 17-car field. Of note is that the driver on the bump spot, Todd Paton in the Terry Haddock car, was not in the lanes to defend his position. They had two passes and felt it wasn't a good investment to make the final session, and in all probability, have to run quicker than Rob Passey's 4.123 pass from the second round of qualifying. Also not showing in the staging lanes was Rob Passey as they didn't have to defend their position with Paton electing not to run.

Austin Prock - TF --- Jim Maroney - TF

(LEFT) First up was Austin Prock and he made his last chance count, with a solid 3.739 - 324.83 to move up from #17 to #10 on the ladder. The run ended in a big oily fireball (not shown) and they faced having to run without lane choice on Sunday morning.

(RIGHT) In the first pair of the round, Arizona's Jim Maroney made his third pass of the weekend, but failed to improve on his earlier 3.930 best, shutting off after half track to a 4.382 - 187.81 to leave himself in the #15 spot going into eliminations.

Clay Millican - TF --- Doug Foley - TF

(LEFT) Out next was fan favourite, and ever-smiling, Clay Millican, who lit up the tires on the launch and idled down the track to a 9-second clocking. His earlier 3.748 left him in the #13 spot.

(RIGHT) Running alongside Millican was Doug Foley and with new tuner Aaron Brooks massaging the tuneup, made a small improvement to 3.751 - 315.12, but stayed in the #14 spot in a field that was very tight for the first 14 spots, with a gap of barely a tenth of a second. Foley's 3.76 and 3.75 were both accompanied with early shutoff speeds of "only" 313 and 315 mph, showing there was definitely more room for improvement in the results.

Tony Schumacher (near lane) vs Josh Hart 
(far lane) - TF --- Steve Torrence (near lane) vs Justin Ashley 
(far lane) - TF

(LEFT) Starting to pull away in the far lane, Josh Hart made a big move up the ladder, from #9 to #5 with his best of the weekend 3.700 - 329.75 that gave him lane choice in tomorrow's first round. In the near lane, Tony Schumacher lost traction and slowed to a 4.966 to stay near the bottom of the field in the #12 spot. And if there were no further movements in the field, Schumacher would have to face Hart in the first round.

(RIGHT) The best side-by-side pair of qualifying came up next, as Steve Torrence in the near lane, barely outran Justin Ashley (far lane), with a great 3.680 - 328.30 to move into the top half of the field, advancing from #9 all the way to #3. Ashley's almost as quick 3.685 - 327.35 pass saw him make a good move upwards also, to #5 from #8.

Tripp Tatum III (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta 
(far lane) - TF --- Tripp Tatum III (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta 
(far lane) - TF

Next up was the very hard running Tripp Tatum III in the near lane, but he ran into some serious problems near the top end, with what appears to be a head gasket evaporating, slowing him to a 4.297 - 188.12 clocking. In the far lane, Doug Kalitta smoked the tires and shut off to a 4.868 - 149.00, but still finished qualifying in the top spot with his career best 3.657 run from Friday.

Leah Pruett (near lane) vs Brittany Force 
(far lane) - TF

The final pair was an all-female pairing, with Leah Pruett in the near lane leading early before fading to a 3.922 - 232.15 to stay in the bottom half of the field in the #9 position. On the far side, Brittany Force had some good early numbers too before clicking it going into the lights and putting up a 3.799 - 300.20 on the scoreboards. That left her in the #6 spot, a rather unfamiliar position for a team that routinely tops the qualifying charts.


FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

With just 16 Funny Cars in the pits, there was no pressure to qualify, but the final session could affect first round pairings and lane choices, so the pressure was on some of the racers to make improved runs. Somewhat surprisingly, five cars elected to stay in the pits and skip the session. Several were expected, as Jeff Diehl, Terry Haddock, and Jeff Arend run on minimal budgets and can't afford to spend the money it takes to make a pass if they can avoid it. Also on the sidelines were Jim Campbell and in a bit of a surprise, Tim Wilkerson, who was safely in the top half of the field and certain of lane choice for at least the first round of eliminations.

Bobby Bode III - FC --- Paul Lee - FC

(LEFT) Heading for the top end with chutes already out, Bobby Bode gave up on the run early and slowed to a 5.481 - 109.18 time. That left the young racer in the #13 spot with his earlier 4.112 - 239.23 early shutoff pass being his best of qualifying.

(RIGHT) In the other lane of that first pairing, Paul Lee had his troubles continue, smoking the tires immediately, enroute to an 11-second pass that left him in the #15 position. After a forgettable non-qualifying result at the Winternationals, Lee's troubles appeared to follow him back to Phoenix, where he never made it to the finish line under power during pre-season testing.

J.R. Todd (near lane) vs Chad Green 
(far lane) - FC --- Ron Capps (near lane) vs Alexis DeJoria 
(far lane) - FC

(LEFT) Things picked up consdierably in the next pairing, as side-by-side 3.90's lit up the scoreboards. In the near lane, J.R. Todd backed up his earlier 3.908 pass with an almost identical 3.910 - 329.34 to stay in the #8 position, while in the far lane, Chad Green cranked out another good run at 3.928 - 321.35 to finish qualifying with three consecutive 3.90 runs and the #10 rung on the eliminations ladder.

(RIGHT) While it looks like Alexis DeJoria (far lane) is leading here, you can see smoke starting to trail the tires as she lost the grip and slowed to a 4.388 - 197.54 clocking to remain in the bottom half of the field in the #9 spot. In the near lane, Ron Capps picked up a couple of hundredths with a great 3.877 - 329.91, but was unable to move up from his #6 position in the field.

Cruz Pedregon (near lane) vs Bob Tasca III 
(far lane) - FC --- Matt Hagan - FC

(LEFT) As the shadows lengthened, the final few pairs of cars ran, with Cruz Pedregon in the near lane, improving slightly to a 3.861 - 328.14 to cement his hold on the #5 position. In the far lane, Bob Tasca III picked up a bit also, to a 3.881 - 331.45, staying in the seventh position though.

(RIGHT) This second to last pair turned into a single run for Matt Hagan as scheduled running mate Tim Wilkerson stayed in the pits. Coming into the session in the #4 spot with a 3.859 best, he turned up the volume to the tune of a low qualifying 3.823 at a booming top speed of the meet 333.41. With just the two Force cars waiting behind the water box, Hagan was guaranteed at least a top three position on the final qualifying list.

Robert Hight - FC

Running by himself at this point, Robert Hight tried his best to re-take the top spot, but fell just short with a 3.839 - 333.00 to stay in the #2 spot, while running mate John Force smoked the tires early and gave up to a 9-second time, settling for the #3 spot on the ladder and a possible semifinal meeting with his employee Hight.

And that was it for qualifying and our report, as our photographer was unable to attend Sunday's eliminations. Next stop for him is the Good Vibrations March Meet next weekend. Stay tuned for that report.


The latest update as of February 26, 2022


NHRA Arizona Nationals logo

NHRA Arizona Nationals SATURDAY Report

The first qualifying session on Friday night saw some great times turned by the Pro Stock cars, with the first 12 cars on the ladder bunched within five hundredths of a second of each other, from Erica Enders great 6.540 - 210.44 at the top of the heap to #12 Matt Hartford in at 6.594 - 209.49. Going down from there, the times dropped another four hundredths to the #15 spot, before Troy Coughlin Jr. sat on the bump spot with a 7-second timeslip. The three alternates were all much slower than that though.

In the Funny Car field, there were just enough entries to fill the field, but with Jeff Diehl taking out the timing blocks at the finish line, both his and Paul Lee's times were DQ'd, leaving just 14 cars with an e.t. At the very top was Winternationals champ Robert Hight with a great 3.838 - 332.18, followed closely by his boss (John Force) and three others in the 3-second zone. The top half of the field was anchored by the Aussie car of Peter & Helen Russo, driven by Jeff Arend to a solid 4.130 - 277.03 pass. After that, the times dropped off rapidly, as a number of the normally strong cars simply overpowered the track.

For the Top Fuel brigade, that inconsistency turned into a torrent of tire smoking and tire shaking runs. After Rob Passey shut off with a fuel leak before his burnout, the first pair (b>Tripp Tatum and Todd Paton got down the track in good order, with Tatum's 3.684 - 310.55 seemingly showing that some great performances were in the offing. Tatum's career best e.t., coupled with an early shutoff (note the 310-mph speed), must have had some of the teams salivating at the propsect of great e.t. possiblities. Alas, the next two pairs resulted in a best clocking of 7.50, before Leah Pruett's 3.703 - 328.22 and Doug Kalitta's 3.657 - 329.56 lit up the scoreboards.

After that career best e.t. for Kalitta, it was all downhill. The last four pairs notched a collective "best" of 5.886 - 108.64, as car after car failed to get past the 330' mark before igniting the tires or running into severe tire shake. With 84 (F) track temp and less than 1800 ft. corrected altitude at the start of the session, it appeared that the rapidly cooling evening desert temperatures caught out a large contingent of crew chiefs. When the smoke cleared - literally - at the end of the session, there were just three 3-second e.t's on the sheet, one 4-second, one 5-second, one 6-second, and a slew of 7-and 8-second times and two cars that didn't make a run. Not the most auspicious start to the weekend.


The latest update as of February 25, 2022


TOP ALCOHOL UPDATE

Will "lightning strike thrice" or will there be a "changing of the guard" at the top of the points standings in Top Alcohol Dragster in 2022? After a three year run at the top of the Top Alcohol Dragster standings, the Randy Meyer Racing juggernaut will be facing some even tougher competition than they've faced since they started their championship run. Megan Meyer won the title in 2019 and 2020, then stepped aside in favour of younger sister Rachel Meyer, who grabbed the crown in 2021. This year, it's Julie Nataas advancing from the #2 car to the primary car, in search of the fourth consecutive title for the Meyer team, and her first in the category.

There are some serious challengers to that supremacy however, starting with the quickest car of the 2021 season, that of the McPhillips Racing team, as they cranked out an awesome 5.101 - 282.42 at the season ending Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona. That run was with Rich McPhillips Jr. driving, but with the usual driver, Matt Cummings at the wheel, an almost as good 5.123 - 280.54 was recorded two months earlier at Charlotte. Between those two drivers, six wins and three runnerup finishes were carded at national events, plus and additional win and three more runnerups at regional races. Collectively, they could have seriously challenged Rachel Meyer for the season championship.

At the second to last race of the season, at Las Vegas, a third driver climbed into the McPhillips dragster, and Mike Coughlin, (yes, THAT Coughlin family) ripped off low e.t. of the first two qualifying sessions at 5.242 - 271.95, before falling to #4 in the final order. Although he lost in the first round of eliminations, the team showed that they could quickly get a handle on the tuneup in their first time racing in relatively thin Las Vegas air.

This year, it appears that driving duties will be shared by Coughlin and Cummings, and with them racing at the season opening Winternationals, plus this weekend at Belle Rose, LA, the McPhillips team looks to be planning on fighting for the top rung on the dragster ladder. UPDATE: While watching the NHRA.tv broadcast from the South Central regional event at Belle Rose, LA, the announcer let it be known that the McPhillips team will be running a total of 27 races in 2022. Whew. That's quite an ambitious - and that's putting it lightly - schedule for the "green gang". And for a change of pace, Matt Cummings is driving this weekend at his first regional event ever after exclusively competing at national events during his Top Alcohol career.

Another A/Fuel team that has spent the winter fine-tuning their equipment and prepping for the season are the John Finke owned and Jackie Fricke driven car from the East Coast. They came within just a car length of taking the 2021 championship, falling to Rachel Meyer in the final round of eliminations at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals in a winner-take-all battle for the season title. Far from being depressed over that heart-breaking loss, the Finke & Fricke team are coming back this year, more determined than ever to finish #1 in the class for the first time, and break the domination exhibited by the Randy Meyer team over the past three years.

There was an interesting article posted on Competition Plus earlier this week detailing their plans and aspirations for 2022. To read it, go to For Fricke and Fink, Fun Comes First in The Pits.

More to come tomorrow, including what about the #3 finisher in 2021, Shawn Cowie. He didn't appear at Pomona, and so far, he's not on the entry list for the Gatornationals, so just what are his team's plans for continuing the fight against the injected nitro cars, with his blown alcohol combination. We're still digging to find out just what their plan is for this year. That's it for now, but we'll be back tomorrow with some more news on what's happening at Wild Horse Pass (NHRA Arizona Nationals) and No Problem Raceway (Nitro on The Bayou), and fill in some of the details in our coverage of the PRO Nitro Spring Training test session.


The latest update as of February 24, 2022


It's been a while since we've had an update here, but as always, real life just gets in the way of all the fun stuff, like drag racing. We've had a few disappointments recently, with NHRA being unable to approve our requests for credentials at the NHRA season opener at Pomona and this coming weekend's Phoenix event. Thankfully, we do have credentials for next week's 64th annual Good Vibrations March Meet. After that, our faithful photographer, "Big" Bob Snyder, will head east to the Texas Motorplex for the second annual FUNNY CAR CHAOS CLASSIC. It's looking like it will be just as big - or bigger - than last year's extravaganza.

That event has been described as the biggest Funny Car race in over fifty years, but it may have been the BIGGEST flopper event in history, as 68 Funny Cars, PLUS a field of nitro-burning AA/Fuel Altereds, invaded the Motorplex for four days of awesome performances and great entertainment. Checking the Funny Car Chaos website shows that 62 cars have pre-entered with a full month to go before the pit gates open.

The latest update as of February 13, 2022


PRO Nitro Spring Training

PRO NITRO SPRING TRAINING - Day Three

Shooting from a very different vantage point in the braking area, BIG Bob Snyder has provided us with some great shots from the final day of the test session. Going into the final day of pre-season testing, the leaderboard had Mike Salinas on top with a great 3.677 - 296.31, followed closely by Steve Torrence at 3.693 - 328.78. On the Funny Car side, Ron Capps with a 3.874 - 325.14 was just a fraction in front of Robert Hight's very good 3.879 - 331.26, while John Force was very close behind the top two, clocking in at 3.888 - 321.88.

In total, after the two 3.60 runners in Top Fuel, the next nine drivers were all in the 3.70-zone, with two more trailing in the low 3.80's. On the Funny Car side, four cars were in the 3.80's and four more in the 3.90's going into the final day of testing.

J.R. Todd - FC --- John Force - FC

(LEFT) It didn't take long for the best numbers from the first two days to be obliterated, as J.R. Todd blew through the lights with an awesome 3.866 - 334.32 clocking to start the ball rolling.

(RIGHT) Just a few minutes later, John Force blew away Todd's numbers with an even better 3.836 - 335.40 to show everyone that he was going to be competing hard from the start of the season.

Leah Pruett - TF --- Mason McGaha - PS

(LEFT) The good numbers continued for Leah Pruett (back in her Power Brokers wrap), who broke into the 3-second zone, despite a very early shutoff, with a very good 3.911 - 237.05 timeslip.

(RIGHT) Continuing to make solid runs as he prepared for his second full season in Pro Stock, Mason McGaha put down a solid 5.542 - 177.74 to start his final day of pre-season testing.

Matt Hartford - PS --- Greg Anderson - PS

(LEFT) More good runs for the naturally aspirated cars followed, as Matt Hartford turned his best times of the test session with a very good 5.506 - 180.57 on his first Saturday pass.

(RIGHT) Nearly matching Hartford's numbers, defending World Champion Greg Anderson stopped the clocks with a 5.508 - 177.74 on his second test pass, after sitting out the first two days.

Robert Hight - FC --- Robert Hight - FC

The second run of the day for Robert Hight wasn't all smooth sailing as a head gasket expired on the top end, with smoke trailing the car through the braking area and leading to a visit from the Safety Safari to ensure everything was safely extinguished. The car did run strong before the incident, with the timeslip reading 4.185 - 226.20.

Josh Hart - TF --- Matt Hagan - FC

(LEFT) Making another solid run, Josh Hart came through the lights at 3.731 - 306.88 to just miss joining the top runners in the 3.60-zone.

(RIGHT) Slowing after a less than successful pass, Matt Hagan couldn't have been happy with the 8.681 - 80.88 reading on the scoreboards.

Clay Millican - TF --- Paul Lee - FC

(LEFT) Continuing to make solid runs without going all the way to the finish line, Clay Millican stopped the timers with a good 3.831 - 272.89 on his first run of the final day.

(RIGHT) Still looking to see some good numbers come up on the scoreboard, Paul Lee's troubles continued as evidenced by the 6.810 - 92.23 reading from this pass.

Scott Farley - TF --- Tim Wilkerson - FC

(LEFT) Getting more laps under his belt, Top Fuel rookie, Scott Farley, shut off very early to a 5.56 e.t. on this attempt.

(RIGHT) Making only his second pass of the three-day test session, Tim Wilkerson backed up his earlier 3.929 - 294.69 with an almost as good 3.945 - 323.12 on this run.

Chad Green - FC --- Gary Densham - FC

(LEFT) The numbers don't really add up, but Chad Green stopped the clocks at 4.780 with a trap speed of only 62.21 mph. The incrementals must have been incredible before he shut off, but unfortunately, we don't have access to them.

(RIGHT) Making his first pass of the test session, Gary Densham (filling in for his "otherwise engaged" son Steven), didn't get very far under power, crawling to a 15-second e.t. on this run.

Shawn Langdon - TF --- Ron Capps - FC

(LEFT) Running side-by-side with his teammate Doug Kalitta (not shown), Shawn Langdon clicked it a little early but still put up a very good number of 3.765 - 312.71 on his first run of the day. It was his best run of spring training to this point.

(RIGHT)

Cruz Pedregon - FC --- Chris McGaha - PS

(LEFT) After several 3-second runs, Cruz Pedregon pushed the Snap-On car to his best of the test 3.920 - 322.18 as the team prepared to build on their successful 2021 season with a strong start at the Winternationals.

(RIGHT) The good runs continued for Chris McGaha as he posted a solid 5.524 - 190.67 to show he was ready to race next week.

Tony Schumacher - TF --- Austin Prock - TF

(LEFT) Getting into the competitive zone with this 3.732 - 324.20 pass, Tony Schumacher started seeing some good results as the team worked hard to get the new car and crew members sorted out before the season opener in Pomona.

(RIGHT) Making his best run of the week - to this point - was Austin Prock who laid down a very good 3.734 - 327.59, but that was surpassed later in the day with a great 3.685 - 333.66 to finish his testing with two back-to-back great runs.

Justin Ashley - TF --- Antron Brown - TF

(LEFT) Slowing after putting down his best run of testing, Justin Ashley rang up a big number on the boards with a 3.691 - 330.07 displayed.

(RIGHT) Not doing quite so well was Antron Brown who needed an assist from the Safety Safari after shutting down early to a 10-second pass.

Shawn Langdon - TF --- Doug Kalitta - TF

(LEFT) Making his ninth and final pass of the three-day test session, Shawn Langdon made his best run at 3.731 - 310.77 to show some good consistency as they prepared to head for the season opener in Pomona next week.

(RIGHT) Another solid run was on tap for Doug Kalitta as he stopped the clocks at 3.797 - 277.89 and showed the consistency that had been so sorely lacking in the 2021 season.

Clay Millican - TF --- Alex Miladinovich - FC

(LEFT) Continuing his careful series of test runs, Clay Millican cut the power early, leading to a 3.810 - 286.98 timeslip, but more good data for crew chief Mike Kloeber to work with as they prepared for the coming season.

(RIGHT) Making his sixth and final run over the 3-day session, Alex Miladinovich showed that there was still more work to do to get on top of the tuneup for his Hot 4 Teacher car. The numbers were his best of the week, but a "best" of 5.828 - 190.27 wasn't a good way to end the pre-season.

Robert Hight - FC --- Matt Hagan - FC (left lane) vs 
Leah Pruett - TF (right lane)

(LEFT) After his troubled run earlier in the day, with a bit of a fire at the finish line, Robert Hight kept everything in good order on this pass, clocking a 3.938 - 325.77 to get things back on track.

(RIGHT) A seldom seen sight of a Top Fuel car and a Funny Car running side-by-side featured the two members of the Tony Stewart Racing team in a matchup made for publicity photos. On the left, Matt Hagan stopped the timers with an early shutoff 3.954 - 284.45, crossing the finish line second, as teammate Leah Pruett made her best run of testing, a very good 3.706 - 330.47 to take the "win".

Chad Green - FC --- Scott Farley - TF

(LEFT) After a best of 4.16 yesterday, Chad Green didn't pick up enough to go into the 3's, but did cross the line at 4.231 - 242.06 on his final test pass.

(RIGHT) Gradually improving as he acclimates himself to a Top Fuel car, after a few years of running in Pro Mod, Scott Farley (in the Terry Haddock Racing) car, got closer to making a full pass, carding a 4.291 - 218.58 on this attempt.

Chris McGaha - PS --- Camrie Caruso - PS

(LEFT) Finishing up his second day of testing with a string of 5.50-runs, Chris McGaha stopped the timers with a 5.515 - 191.13 on this pass.

(RIGHT) Not too far back in the e.t. department, Camrie Caruso continued to show she was a quick learner, whipping her mount to a 5.540 - 176.95 on this outing. With more than a dozen passes over the three days, including several side-by-side passes she appeared more than ready for her debut at the Winternationals.

Bob Tasca III - FC --- Cruz Pedregon - FC

(LEFT) Making another foray into the 3-second zone, Bob Tasca III cut the power a little early, but still put up a solid 3.945 - 300.53 on the scoreboards. That made a total of three runs in the 3's of the seven passes he made during testing.

(RIGHT) With four out of seven runs under 4-seconds, Cruz Pedregon had to be happy with the test session. He finished with this run, slowing from his earlier in the day 3.92 effort, coming in with a 4.160 - 232.25 timeslip.

Matt Hartford - PS --- Alexis DeJoria - FC

(LEFT) Winning the award for most runs in the 3-day test session was Matt Hartford, as this was the last of 16 passes he made during Spring Training. It was one of his best, as he laid down a very good 5.502 - 190.27 on this attempt, just a little slower than his best of the session 5.499 - 191.24 earlier in the day.

(RIGHT) Making her third 3-second pass in five attempts over the course of the 3-day session, Alexis DeJoria rang up a good 3.942 - 325.22 on this run.

Paul Lee - FC --- Matt Hagan - FC

(LEFT) Saving his best for last, Paul Lee's fourth pass in testing yielded a promising 4.393 - 200.74, after three troubled runs on earlier attempts.

(RIGHT) Making nine runs during the three days, Matt Hagan finally broke into the 3.80's with a very good 3.858 - 329.04 to close out his test week for the new Power Brokers team.

Doug Kalitta - TF

Closing the final day of pre-season testing, Doug Kalitta headed down track with the flames up, enroute to a good 3.723 - 319.14 as he finished the three days with his quickest pass of the 11 he made during the test session. All that testing looked like it could be a good lead-in to a much improved season in 2022.


The latest update as of February 12, 2022


PRO Nitro Spring Training

PRO NITRO SPRING TRAINING - Day Two

With a full day of testing under their belts, the number of competitors making runs on the second day of the PRO Nitro Spring Training increased as the racers looked to improve on the first day's results. Leading the way in Top Fuel was Steve Torrence with an early shutoff 3.682 - 303.84, while the top Funny Car driver was Robert Hight with a very strong 3.911 - 323.11. That run was a fitting start to his (totally unofficial) "Redemption Tour 22" after last season's disastrous string of early round losses. With a total of 16 T/F cars (and 19 drivers), 13 F/C's and 9 Pro Stockers, plus a few A/FD's in the pits, Friday promised to be full of good performances.

Camrie Caruso (left side) vs Matt Hartford (right side) - PS --- Josh Hart - TF

(LEFT) Leading off the day's action was a side-by-side Pro Stock pairing, with rookie Camrie Caruso (left) and returning Matt Hartford facing off. After good launches, both drivers ran into trouble downtrack, with Hartford stopping the clocks first at 6.885 - 158.91 and Caruso trailing at 7.111 - 143.54. Note that all Pro Stock e.t.'s and speeds were recorded at the 1000' mark, unless otherwise noted.

(RIGHT) The first car to go all the way to the finish line under power, was the new dragster of Josh Hart as he ran strong to a 3.765 - 322.50 to show that the Ron Douglas led team were ready to hit the tour full-time in 2022.

Leah Pruett - TF --- Leah Pruett - TF

Switching bodies from her "Power Brokers" look to part-time primary sponsor "Sparkling ICE", Leah Pruett made a good 800' run that rang up a 3.901 - 235.60 on the timers.

Ron Capps - FC --- Ron Capps - FC

After a strong burnout, Ron Capps launched hard, but so did the parchutes as the car shut down to a 7.063 - 79.97 in a rather inauspicious start to the day.

Mason McGaha - PS --- Chris McGaha - PS

It's a "Tale of Two McGaha's" as young Mason McGaha (left) and father Chris McGaha laid down their first passes after sitting out Thursday. On his first attempt, Mason carded an early shutoff 5.971 - 138.10, while his dad kept the pedal down close to the 1000' mark, clocking in at 5.688 - 155.99 to start their weekend.

Josh Hart - TF --- Doug Foley - TF

(LEFT) After his first pass of the day ended with a 3.765 on the scoreboards, Josh Hart backed it up with a slightly better 3.761 - 321.12 to show everyone that their tuneup was repeatable.

(RIGHT) Announcing that he and partner Tim Lewis were planning to run the entire schedule - or until the money runs out - is longtime competitor Doug Foley made a good abbreviated pass of 4.089 - 221.82 as new tuner Aaron Brooks worked to get a handle on the brand new car and combination.

Alexis DeJoria - FC --- Tim Wilkerson - FC

(LEFT) With the new Bandero - Rokit wrap presumably waiting to be installed, Alexis DeJoria backed up her Thursday 3.921 run, with an even better 3.912 - 316.15 that saw her off the pedal a little before the speed trap.

(RIGHT) One of the hardest working men in drag racing, Tim Wilkerson took a quick ride into the 3-second zone, with a 3.929 - 29.69 coming up on the scoreboards. It was his first pass of the year and showed there was certainly no rust on the LRS Mustang.

Clay Millican - TF --- Clay Millican - TF

A good burnout (left) and solid launch (right) for Clay Millican were the precursor to a half track effort that timed in at 4.383 - 179.42, very creditable numbers for such an early shutoff.

Jim Maroney - TF --- Jim Maroney - TF

Local Arizona racer, Jim Maroney, in his American Flow Tech-backed entry, opened his 2022 campaign with an early shutoff 5.608 - 117.90 as his team started getting ready for their Winternationals appearance. That will be the first of a planned 8-race schedule this year after three and four race seasons in the previous three years in the class.

Scott Farley - TF --- Scott Farley - TF

It looks like two views of a burnout for Scott Farley in the Terry Haddock Racing car, but the photo on the right is of the launch. Needless to say, the numbers on the scoreboard were larger (e.t.) and smaller (mph) than they were hoping for.

Paul Lee - FC --- Ron Capps - FC

(LEFT) The struggles continued for the Paul Lee team as a 5.008 - 157.50 came up on the scoreboards on their first attempt of the day.

(RIGHT) Rebounding from the aborted run (chutes out on the launch) earlier, Ron Capps laid down a very good 3.916 - 324.12 to show the other racers that they were ready to defend their 2021 World Championship.

Leah Pruett - TF --- Clay Millican - TF

(LEFT) We don't have the numbers for Leah Pruett on this pass, but she was helping dial in the newly formed Tony Stewart Racing team crewmembers with a series of runs during the test session.

(RIGHT) Warming up the tires before his next pass, Clay Millican went on to pound at a solid 3.814 e.t. with an early shutoff speed of just 264.75 mph to wrap up the day for the Parts Plus team.

Camrie Caruso (near lane) vs Matt Hartford (far lane) - PS --- Hunter Green - TF

(LEFT) Running alongside Matt Hartford (far lane) again, Camrie Caruso (near lane) got some practice staging up against a competitor as they both made full passes, stopping the clocks with a 5.544 - 187.78 for Caruso) and a 5.581 - 172.65 for Hartford.

(RIGHT) Making another licensing pass, Hunter Green dipped into the 3-second zone with a strong 3.933 - 294.75 to presumably complete the T/F license process.

Austin Prock - TF --- Doug Kalitta - TF

(LEFT) On his fourth run of the test session (one yesterday, two earlier today), Austin Prock showed that he wasn't rusty after a near two year layoff from driving, cranking out a very good 3.816 - 275.62 to finish his day.

(RIGHT) Making his third consecutive run in the 3.70's, Doug Kalitta clicked it off a little early to a 3.754 - 292.01 as the rejuvenated MAC Tools team kept making strides in the right direction.

Ron Capps - FC --- Leah Pruett - TF

(LEFT) Saving his best pass for last, Ron Capps kept the loud pedal down all the way, ringing up an excellent 3.874 - 325.13 to finish his test day on a high note.

(RIGHT) Finishing the day with a spectacular show of header flames, Leah Pruett lit up the night sky for a second or two, before lifting and coasting to a 6.032 - 112.35 on the rapidly cooling track.


The latest update as of February 11, 2022


PRO Nitro Spring Training

PRO NITRO SPRING TRAINING - Day One

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series opened the 2022 season yesterday with the first of three days of testing at Chandler, AZ's Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. With warm (75 - 80 F) temperatures, light breezes and lots of sun, it was a good way for the teams to shake off the winter rust and get up to speed in a hurry, with the season opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals barely one week away. Here's the first of many photos from our Southwestern correspodent, BIG Bob Snyder as he captures all the action from the starting line.

Rodger Brogdon - PS --- Rodger Brogdon - PS

Debuting his new RoofTec" car, Texan Rodger Brogdon has returned to the Pro Stock cars with a serious plan to challenge for the championship. He made four runs on the day, all in the 5.50's (e.t.'s taken at the 1000' mark), with a best of 5.518 - 190.22, which equates to roughly a high 6.50 in the quarter-mile.

Robert Hight - FC --- Robert Hight - FC

Opening his season with a full pass right out of the box, former world champion Robert Hight lit up the scoreboards with a 3.911 - 323.11 that showed the "Auto Club" Chevy was back in the hunt for another title.

John Force - FC --- Tony Schumacher - TF

(LEFT) The other JFR car didn't get too far under power on his first attempt, as John Force clocked an .858 short time, but shut off soon after and coasted to an 8.122 -79.69 result.

(RIGHT) Finally back on the tour with serious sponsorship from the Maynard Family, multi-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle and idled down the track on his first attempt.

Bob Tasca - FC --- Antron Brown - TF

(LEFT) Showing that they weren't slowing down from their Auto Club Finals win that closed out the 2021 season, the Motorcraft Mustang of Bob Tasca III rang up a 3.924 - 315.64 on their first pass.

(RIGHT) Same sponsor, different colours, same driver, different team as Antron Brown debuted the Antron Brown Motorsports Matco Tools dragster. His first pass was a strong one, at 3.861 - 268.06 despite the obviously early shutoff.

Leah Pruett - TF --- Leah Pruett - TF

Showing off her new DODGE Power Brokers wrap, last season's #7 driver in Top Fuel, Leah Pruett made her first passes as part of the newly formed Tony Stewart Racing team. Her only pass of the day ended in a blaze of tire smoke and a 9-second clocking.

Matt Hagan - FC --- Matt Hagan - FC

The other half of the Tony Stewart-owned team, Matt Hagan, was looking to find enough extra performance to take the championship in 2022, after finishing just 63-points behind Ron Capps last year. His first pass of the new season saw 4.007 - 281.36 numbers come up on the scoreboard.

Justin Ashley - TF --- Brittany Force - TF

(LEFT) With new sponsors for 2022, Justin Ashley looked to keep moving up the performance ladder and improve on his #4 finish in the standings in 2021 after just three full seasons in Top Fuel. His first pass netted very early shutoff numbers of 4.446 - 170.92.

(RIGHT) Anxious to get going in the new season after a disappointing runnerup finish in the championship chase of 2021, Brittany Force clicked it off at half track and still stopped the timers at 4.190 - 192.55 on her first pass of the year.

Cruz Pedregon - FC --- Cruz Pedregon - FC

Following his very successful 2021 season, where he finished in his highest placing in nearly a decade, Cruz Pedregon had spent the winter working to improve even more with his Makers & Fixers team. An opening pass of 3.955 - 324.35 showed that they had obviously done their homework.

Alexis DeJoria - FC --- Alexis DeJoria - FC

Showing off one of the new Toyota Supra GR bodies, and a new wrap design, Alexis DeJoria was ready to build on her late season success in 2021, and it looks like crew chief Del Worsham had turned the right screws as it laid down a very good 3.921 - 321.73 right out of the trailer.

Dallas Glenn - PS --- Matt Hartford - PS

(LEFT) The Pro Stock cars made the most of their track time, with a number of them making four passes on the day. Last year's NHRA Rookie of The Year, Dallas Glenn was one of them, as he worked up to a cumulative best of 5.559 - 181.32 (clocked at the 1000' mark).

(RIGHT) Not having as much luck was Matt Hartford who never made a full pass in four attempts. They were working out the bugs and with two more days of testing available to them, were certain to find a combination to start the season with next week at Pomona.

Doug Kalitta - TF --- Shawn Langdon - TF

(LEFT) Now with new tuning direction as Alan Johnson and Brian Husen have joined Kalitta Motorsports, Doug Kalitta came into Wild Horse Pass looking for much improved performance after a very disappointing 2021 season. He made three attempts on the day, with the middle one netting a solid 3.842 - 257.58 timeslip, despite the early shutoff.

(RIGHT) Kalitta's teammate Shawn Langdon first pass ended in a haze of tire smoke at the 300' mark. Not exactly what they were looking for but at least they found what didn't work.

Chad Green - FC --- Alex Miladinovich  FC

(LEFT) The Funny Cars were out in full force with 13 of them in the pits. Preparing to run a full schedule in Funny Car this season, after making the gradual transition from Pro Mod, Chad Green opened his account with a decent early shutoff 4.296 - 227.84 that showed the Daniel Wilkerson tuneup was making power and applying it to the track.

(RIGHT) After two seasons of part-time participation, with four races each year, Alex Miladinovich was still looking to get close to the 3-second zone in his homebuilt Hot 4 Teacher Toyota. His first pass clocked in at 13.88, and the second one was only marginally better at 9-seconds. There was obviously lots of work to do in the clutch and power delivery department, but this test session was the place to work on it.

J.R. Todd - FC --- Matt Hartford - PS

(LEFT) On his second attempt of the day, after his first one fizzled out at the 60' mark, J.R. Todd showed off the sharp new DHL wrap on the Toyota Supra body. This pass went a little further before he lifted, with a 4.884 - 161.77 coming up on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) Also making his second pass of the day, Matt Hartford went a little further under power before clicking it off to a 6.152 - 122.13 over the 1000' timing distance.

Tony Schumacher - TF --- Tony Schumacher - TF

Two views of the new SCAG (power equipment) sponsored car, Tony Schumacher debuted the car with a good half track pass of 4.229 - 193.46 as he began the process of getting back in the Top Fuel groove. After three years without a full time ride on the tour, this new car appears ready to be here for the long haul.

Antron Brown - TF --- Steve Torrence - TF

(LEFT) One of the new "independent" team owners, Antron Brown showed that he was ready to compete right out of the gate, with an early shutoff 3.861 - 268.06 timeslip on his first pass.

(RIGHT) Upping the ante put down by A. Brown, Steve Torrence dropped into 3.60's with a booming 3.682 pass, accompanied with a mph reading of only 303.84 to set an early high water mark.

Brittany Force - TF --- Doug Kalitta - TF

(LEFT) Continuing with her half-track passes, the Monster Energy car of Brittany Force clicked it off to a 4.523 - 172.54 on her second pass.

(RIGHT) Showing that the tuneup help from his new crew chiefs was working well, Doug Kalitta was off the loud pedal well before the finish line, but still checked in at 3.842 - 257.58, showing that the potential was already in place.

Cruz Pedregon - FC --- Matt Hagan - FC

(LEFT) Following his first pass that came in at 3.955, Cruz Pedregon didn't get very far before tire shake aborted his second attempt and left a 7-second time on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) Making his second pass an abbreviated one also, after an opening 4.007 - 281.36, the Power Brokers car of Matt Hagan went 800' before lifting and coasted across the stripe with a 4.136 - 250.51 timeslip.

Bob Tasca III - FC --- Alex Miladinovich - FC

(LEFT) The Funny Car contingent continued to run, as Bob Tasca III made another pass but failed to improve on his earlier 3.95 effort.

(RIGHT) Back to the starting line for his second try at getting down the track, Alex Miladinovich got a little further under power before shutting off to a 9.481 - 68.27 clocking. Still trying to get on top of the tuneup was Kevin Poynter.

Justin Ashley - TF --- Justin Ashley - TF

Making his second pass of the day, Justin Ashley and his crew, led by veteran crew chief Mike Green kept ironing out any wrinkles in their tuneup.

Robert Hight - FC --- John Force - FC

The two Force cars came out for their second passes and didn't have any better results than their first attempts, with Robert Hight (left) going up in smoke early and coasting to a 9.207 - 81.30. His boss, John Force got a little further down track before giving up on the run, clocking in at 6.966 - 88.38 to cap a rather dismal day of testing.

Tripp Tatum III - TF --- Shawn Langdon - TF

(LEFT) After coming on the scene with his own car at the U.S. Nationals last September, the "Capco Clone" car of Tripp Tatum III has made tremendous progress in Top Fuel. He continued that journey here with two early shutoff passes, a great earlier 3.817 - 258.47 and an equally good 3.823 - 267.75 on this run.

(RIGHT) Showing off the new DHL wrap for 2022, Shawn Langdon was looking for a better season with help in the tuning department from the Johnson - Husen duo. He improved greatly from his first pass, with an early lifting off the throttle producing a 3.921 - 239.91 result.

Mike Salinas - TF --- Steve Torrence - TF

(LEFT) Even with a crew chief change from Alan Johnson to Rob Flynn, it looks like the Scrappers team is still hitting on all eight with a solid 3.815 - 271.62 pass for Mike Salinas on his second attempt. His first pass ended early with a respectable 4.104 - 204.70 coming up on the boards.

(RIGHT) Four-time defending world champion Steve Torrence followed up his earlier 3.68 pass with an almost as good 3.711 - 308.85 to show that they were ready to go for Pomona. Even without father Billy competing for at least the first few races of the 2022 season, the CAPCO team appears to be in mid-season form on day one.

Brittany Force - TF --- J.R. Todd - FC

(LEFT) On her third pass of the day, Brittany Force kept the throttle open a nano-second longer to clock in at 4.013 - 217.25 for her best numbers of the day.

(RIGHT) Making his last attempt of day one really count, J.R. Todd ripped off an excellent 3.988 - 321.88 in the late afternoon.

Hunter Green - TF --- Hunter Green - TF

With no lettering or competition number visible on this all-black car, we're a little confused as to the identity of the driver. Our best guess is that was Hunter Green (son of nitro funny car racer Chad Green), making passes towards his Top Fuel license. The best clue we have is seeing Tim Wilkerson standing behind the car on the launch. The numbers on the scoreboard were impressive with a 4.152 - 230.17 coming up.

Camrie Caruso - PS --- Camrie Caruso - PS

Working hard to get enough passes under her belt before her Pro Stock competition debut at the Winternationals, Camrie Caruso clocked a pair of 5.665 runs at the 1000' distance, with this one going through the speed trap at 165.60-mph.

Jasmine Salinas - A/FD

Closing out the day with another pass in her A/Fuel Dragster, Jasmine Salinas ran into tire shake and shut off to a 5.764 - 124.69 to finish the session.


The latest update as of February 2, 2022

NORTHERN THUNDER.com updates

Behind the scenes we've been working on the Features page(s), going through our coverage of each event and filling in the missing details and captions for the photos. It's a long process, that's been made more difficult by procastination on the part of the webmaster. This year promises to be different, with us vowing to provide all the details, on a timely basis, from every event we cover throughout the season. Additionally, we'll be adding features for past events that were never previously posted. That task will be a long-term project, but it will fill in so many blanks that have developed on this website over the nearly 25 years that we've been on the worldwide web.

With barely a week until the Nitro Spring Training event begins at Phoenix, and then a week after that before the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals starts, kicking off the 2022 Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series, it's going to get very busy very quickly here. With four major events on consecutive weekends (Spring Training, Winternationals, Arizona Nationals, March Meet) to start the season, followed by three more (Funny Car Chaos season opener, the Las Vegas 4-Wide and regional events) after a two week break, we're going to have to hit the ground running, so to speak, just to keep up with all the racing action.

In Top Alcohol Dragster news, it's been confirmed that Rachel Meyer will not repeat as the national champion in the class this season. She's stepped aside from driving to focus on the team's bracket racing program, and that move has elevated Julie Nataas to the #1 driving position at Randy Meyer Racing for 2022. Nataas finished #4 in the points chase last year and will have to be considered one of the favourites to take this year's championship. However, she will face some serious competition as Jackie Fricke (#2 in 2021) and Shawn Cowie (#3) will be running full schedules in an attempt to capture their first Top Alcohol championship.

Fricke came closest to breaking the Meyer (Megan & Rachel) domination of the past three seasons, falling just a car length short in the final round of the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals (Las Vegas) in the second-to-last race of the 2021 season. In Cowie's case, after four seasons in a row in the #2 spot, he fell off the pace in the second half of last season to fall one notch to #3 in the final standings. With six consecutive seasons finishing #3 or #2, Cowie and his ace tuner, Norm Grimes will be going all-out in 2022 in an attempt to overcome the A/Fuel domination of the class over the past three years.

In Top Alcohol Funny Car news, it's just been announced that the 2020 National Champion, and runnerup last year, Doug Gordon has received a sponsorship renewal for 2022 and 2023 from BETA Motorcycles. They came onboard with the Gordon team at the start of the 2020 season and will be with him until the end of his Funny Car driving career. Accompanying the sponsorship renewal is the confirmation that Madison Gordon will take the wheel of the family's flopper, making her the third generation driver of the car, after grandfather Mike, and father Doug. The immediate plan for the team is to wrest the championship crown away from Sean Bellemeur and the "Killer B's" team.

Before we sign off for today, we made a quick check on the FUNNY CAR CHAOS website and perused the pre-entry list for the 2nd annual Funny Car Chaos Classic, being held at the Texas Motorplex (Ennis, TX) on March 25 - 26th. So far there's 57 Funny Cars entered, with many more to come. Last year's inaugural edition attracted 68 car and this year could see that mark eclipsed, making it the BIGGEST Funny Car race in history. And we've got BIG Bob Snyder and possibly Dale Fackler providing us with lots of great photos from the event. Stay tuned for much more on this amazing event as we get closer to the date.


The latest update as of February 1, 2022

The clock is ticking as the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals draws near

Now that the calendar has flipped a page to Feburary, you can almost smell the nitro burning as we're only NINE DAYS from the start of the Nitro Spring Training event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (Chandler, AZ). The entry list of PRO drivers continues to grow almost daily and in the fuel-burning ranks, there's almost enough racers signed up to fill a pair of 16-car fields. Top Fuel is going to be especially interesting with the return of Tony Schumacher and Austin Prock, both of whom are almost sure bets to secure a Top Ten spot and entry to the Countdown to The Championship in the final quarter of the season.

Their returns are going to put some serious pressure on last year's countdown contenders, as all of them are set to return for 2022. The one possible exception is the announcement that Billy Torrence is looking to run a shorter schedule this year. However, first year phenom Josh Hart, who won his first national event (and another one later in the season) will be running a full slate of races. Plus, there a number of other competitive racers who could challenge for a spot in the countdown group if their sponsorship and/or performance aspirations come to fruition. Suffice to say, it's going to be a very interesting year for Top Fuel. There may even be some serious drama in qualifying for a change, with more than minimum fields on hand.

In Funny Car, there's been a few team changes, sponsorship changes, but the Top Ten racers are all going to be returning, with no major additions to the competitive ranks. Just below the top ten are a handful of racers that could challenge for admission to that club, but the odds are very much that the same group will be in the countdown come September. There will almost certainly be full - and overflowing - fields at all races this year with quite a few part-time competitors in each corner of the country available to ensure there won't be any short fields.

Pro Stock has some new faces, and plenty of old ones, and will continue to be healthy in competitor numbers, and the usual rivalries between the KB Racing and Elite Performance teams will continue to capture people's imaginations. While the Pro Stock cars are doing well, and growing more competitive all the time, the Pro Stock Motorcycle ranks seem to be thinning out as the 2021 season saw less than full fields at six out of the 15 events on the schedule.

Pro Mod fared even worse, with only 11 entries at the season finale in Las Vegas, and among the missing was the national champion Jose Gonzalez. At the second to last race on the schedule, Bristol, at one time a hotbed of Pro Mod racing, only 14 cars showed up. Even worse was the sad sight of just seven cars at the Brainerd race and nine at Denver, both tracks admittedly not exactly on the radar of the Pro Mod bunch, but still national events in a sponsored series. One might say that the (almost) constantly changing rules structure that keeps trying to equalize the various "power adder" options are to blame. That is certinaly a factor, but as the cost of competing in the class escalates exponentially, and purses (for the most part) remain stagnant, it's simply pricing out the lesser funded racers. Sad, but true.

In Top Alcohol news, the Randy Meyer Racing team has dominated the Dragster class for the past three years, with back-to-back championships for Megan Meyer in 2019 and 2020, before her sister (Rachel Meyer) took last year's championship. Now the focus has shifted to the team's #2 driver, Julie Nataas, as Rachel steps aside, making Julie the primary car for 2022. There will be a second car in their pit area with a series of new and part-time drivers filling that seat, but the emphasis is on Julie winning this year's title. With only one rule change that may (or may not) affect the A/Fuel cars this season, that of the increase in the allowable minimum fuel temperature (measured before each run), we don't expect them to run much slower, if at all, in 2022.


The latest update as of January 25, 2022

NHRA releases the 2022 Hot Rod Heritage Series schedule

The long awaited NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series schedule for 2022 has just been released, and as expected, it starts and ends at Bakersfield's Famoso Dragstrip. Kicking off just 37 days from now, the 64th annual Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet is the first of eight races on the calendar. And as has been traditional for as long as the Heritage Series has existed, the season finale is back at Bakersfield for the 30th annual California Hot Rod Reunion, running from October 21 - 23.

In between those dates there are four races for Nostalgia Funny Car, with three of them also featuring Nostalgia Top Fuel cars. After Bakersfield (March 3- 6), the series heads north to Boise, ID's Firebird Raceway for the 51st annual Ignitor Nitro Opener (April 29 - May 1), then east to Bowling Green, KY's Beech Bend Raceway Park for the National Hot Rod Reunion, June 16 - 18. After a mid-summer break, the series returns to Firebird Raceway for the 51st annual Nightfire Nationals, running from August 4 - 7. Before the final race of the season, the racers travel to Tulsa, OK's Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park for the Nostalgia Nitro Nationals, September 16 - 17.

There's two other events on the schedule, without the Nitro Nostalgia cars, both happening at Sacramento Raceway for the Group 1 & 2 cars on April 1- 2 (Funny Car Fever), and Sept. 16 - 17 (Governor's Cup). As mentioned earlier, racers in Funny Car will compete for points at six events, while the Top Fuel contingent has five races. Unless they add a caveat to the points scheme, it appears that the ability to waive one of the six events for the Funny Cars has been eliminated. That could definitely put a premium on having a large enough travel budget to maximize points earning opportunities.

More news on the Heritage Series season, including any rules changes, as they develop.


The latest update as of January 23, 2022

What's Next for What's New


2022 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet poster


Yes, it's not that long - just six weeks! - until the 2022 edition of the Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet, held as always, (at least in the last 50+ years) at Famoso Dragway. This year they're back to the regular schedule instead of the "one off" (hopefully) late May edition of 2021. We've applied for credentials for our ace photographer to attend and report for us on the first race on the NHRA Heritage Series schedule, and the most iconic nostalgia drag racing event in the world.

Click on the poster for more information on the event, or to purchase tickets, etc.

PRO Nitro Spring Training


However, before the March Meet, we've got the go-ahead to attend the PRO Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on the weekend of February 10 - 12. And if all things go well (fingers crossed) we'll have full coverage from the two opening events on the Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series, starting with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals (Pomona) and the NHRA Arizona Nationals (Phoenix).

Funny Car Chaos classic


It's going to be a busy start to the 2022 season, but that's only the start as Bob Snyder plans to attend all, or almost all (he might skip the Baton Rouge event) of the FUNNY CAR CHAOS races again, starting with the BIGGEST Funny Car race in the world at the Texas Motorplex in late March. There's also been a large late change in the schedule as the FCC season finale goes back to the Motorplex as part of the second annual Stampede of Speed to make that ten day event even bigger than last year's extravaganza. Looks like quite a season of nitro-powered drag racing is on the agenda.


The latest update as of January 22, 2022

Phoenix Test Session photos

We've got a handful of photos of yesterday's private testing session at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (Chandler, AZ), where AA/Fuel Altered pilots Dylan Winefsky and Cory Lee each made a couple of runs to test the track surface and their combinations for the 2022 season. We'll post the pictures later today but here's one from the end of a successful day for second generation fuel racer, young Mr. Winefsky as he piloted the "Nitro Moose" (Winefsky Family Racing) altered to an early shutoff 6.257 - 189.12 and a full pass of 6.085 - 236.96 to close out a very successful day for the team.

Nitro Moose warmup in the pits --- Nitro Moose warmup in the pits

Warming up and getting ready for their first passes since last September's United Nitro Funny Cars race at Tucson with son Dylan driving after his father Robert handed him the "keys" to the family hot rod.

Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' --- Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose'

First burnout of 2022!

Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' --- Cory Lee - 'Sheepherder'

(LEFT) Launching hard with the front wheels dangling off the starting line, Dylan Winfeskfy drove the "Nitro Moose" to an excellent - out of the box - 6.257 - 189.12 clocking. He was under four seconds at half track (3.999) and his speed at the 660' mark (189.28) was faster than the finish line number. Looking at all the incrementals indicates that the first pass of the day/year would have been as low as 6.05 if he'd stayed on the loud pedal all the way. However, the early shutoff was the plan.

(RIGHT) Running alongside Winefsky while helping to sort out the "Sheepherder" was jack-of-all-trades Cory Lee who was last seen driving Gary Turner's "Pedaler" Nostalgia Funny Car at the California Hot Rod Reunion in October, after a part-time driving gig in the Rhea Goodrich-owned "New Englander" Big Show Nitro Funny Car earlier in the 2021 season.

Cory Lee - 'Sheepherder' --- Cory Lee - 'Sheepherder'

On the left we've got Cory Lee launching on his first pass that went well until he shut off at half track. The photo on the right shows his burnout before the second run and as in the first burnout, there's three cylinders down on the right side as he spins the tires.

Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' --- Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' (near lane) 
vs Cory Lee - 'Sheepherder' (far lane)

(LEFT) Winefsky lights up the tires as he prepares for a full pass in the 'Moose" alongside Lee in the 'Sheepherder'.

(RIGHT) Leaving together with the throttles wide open and all the pipes clean, with Winfesky on the left and Lee on the right. It didn't stay that way for long though as the 'Sheepherder' put out a few holes early and shut off while Winefsky kept going all the way to the 1320' mark.

Dylan Winefsky scoreboard --- Dylan Winefsky after the run

(LEFT) The scoreboard tells the tale of a run that would be very competitive at the upcoming March Meet, which is where the team is headed in just six weeks. With a 6.00- second index for that class at Bakersfield, the car looks set to challenge for another final round appearance at that event. When Robert was driving, they were runnerup to Ron Capps at the 2020 edition of the Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet.

(RIGHT) Hot and sweaty and very happy, Winefsky exits the car after his successful run, with his father, and former pilot of the car when it was called the "Coyote Express", standing in the background.

Cory Lee (left) and Dylan Winefsky (right) --- Winefsky family at the end of the day

(LEFT) Back in the pits after their second runs, Cory Lee (left) points to a rising star in the AA/Fuel Altered ranks, Dylan Winefsky (right).

(RIGHT) Before loading up and heading home, the entire "Nitro Moose" team posed with the car for a photo.


The latest update as of January 19, 2022

Changes to the Championship in Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car

The 2021 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season was a virtual patchwork quilt of rescheduled, moved, and cancelled events that concluded with 24 regional and 15 national events. This year's schedule - at least on paper - lists 27 regionals and 15 nationals. Hopefully it won't turn into a "work in progress" as last season was, but we still haven't opened the gates to the first race of the year; that's still four weeks away.

NHRA has made some changes to the points formula for the Top Alcohol competitors, with racers allowed to claim points at the first ten national and six regional events that they attend. From those races, they can claim their best six national and four regional events. This differs from the best seven of ten nationals and best three of five regionals that has been the standard since the 2012 season.

One other, somewhat subtle, but significant change is the "waiving" of points at events. In previous seasons, a racer could waive their points following the conclusion of a race. Obviously, if a racer failed to qualify or lost in an early round, they would routinely waive points from that event. This year, the waiver must be made before "prior to the first pair of cars starting for the first qualifying session if they elect to not claim the event points". That pretty much eliminates that option for the races, unless they have a catastrophic parts failure while warming up for the first qualifying session.

This change to the waiving option may not have much effect on the points chases, but racers wishing to contend for a championship may carefully choose the events they attend, taking into consideration the level of competition they may face. On the other hand, choosing to face their toughest challengers at a certain event may become a strategic decision. In any case, it will be an interesting year of following the championship chases in the Top Alcohol categories.

Top Fuel competition in 2022

While last season saw some new competitors come on the scene, notably Josh Hart and secondarily, Alex Laughlin, and to a lesser extent, Joey Haas (runnerup at the Mile-High Nationals), this year may see a number of returning and upgrading races in the championship fight. Besides the "usual suspects" (the Top Ten racers in 2021), the number of racers capable of competitive, ie. 3.70 - 3.90 elapsed times grew substantially in 2021. From Cameron Ferre - who VERY nearly upset the world champion in the semi-finals at the Auto Club Finals - to Tripp Tatum III who showed up literally out of nowhere at the U.S. Nationals and instantly ran 3.80's, before nearly dropping into the 3.60's at his next race.

Other racers that could make 2022 a season of full and overflowing competitive fields are Tony Schumacher finally back on a full-time basis for the first time since 2018, now with serious long-term sponsorhsip after making eight appearances in the abbreviated 12-race 2020 season. Other possible returnees are Austin Prock (still just a rumour that funding will arrive to put him back in a John Force Racing car), and Doug Foley who's making an all-out effort with a trailer full of new parts, and Aaron Brooks tuning.

Then there's a bunch of racers that will make at least a partial schedule, and could expand to a full tour if sponsorhips allow. In that group are Alex Laughlin in a Scott Palmer car, the previously mentioned Cameron Ferre, and less well-known racers like Greg Carillo (best in 2021 of 3.76 - 321 mph), and Jim Maroney (3.87 - 302 mph), Kyle Wurtzel (3.85 - 313 mph).

One racer that fans would love to see compete more often, T.J. Zizzo, who carded career bests of 3.75 - 329 mph last year in a very abbreviated two race schedule, hopes to be out more often this season. Another racer that could shake things up on the west coast is Brandon Welch who made some waves at the Auto Club Finals with best numbers of 3.84 - 309 mph. And there's a number of others seemingly on the cusp of making it happen, including third-generation TF racer, Krista Baldwin, and half a dozen others with 3-second clockings to their credit.

With the formation of the new TSR team (Tony Stewart Racing), that has Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan competing, the team owner Stewart has earned his Top Fuel license and may compete at a few events close to their Indianapolis base. He would obviously be completely competitive instantly with the team he's assembled backing him. Another racer that could come back after sitting out last season is senior citizen Pat Dakin who has career best numbers of 3.71 - 324.98 mph to his credit and can always be counted on to be competitive. Finally, another fan favourite of previous seasons, Terry "The Insta-Gator" McMillen is coming back, at least on a part-time basis, following today's announcement of a partnership with Canadian TF racer Dan Mercier (whos's got 3.89 - 318 mph numbers to his credit from the 2019 season.

We still haven't seen the entry list for the Winternationals, but it's almost a certainty to be an over-subscribed field as quite a few racers want to hit the ground running as the season schedule returns to a normal event rotation.


The latest update as of January 5, 2022


25th year of Northern Thunder begins

Hard to believe that nearly a quarter of a century has passed since our first venture into the world wide web. Our first post on this page was January 27, 1998 and here's what we wrote that day.


To see previous updates, go to the What's Old page

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